Murder-for-Hire Allegedly Involved $45M in Real Estate


(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

The lengths one man allegedly went to in order to seize a $45 million real estate portfolio are being put on display in a murder-for-hire trial.

Anthony Zottola is accused of perpetrating a plot to have his father killed. In opening remarks, Assistant US Attorney Devon Lash accused Zottola of wanting control of his father’s real estate holdings, the New York Post reported.

Sylvester Zottola controlled about 90 properties, worth about $45 million, according to Anthony’s brother, Salvatore. The patriarch’s real estate business drew more than $1 million a year in rental income from one of the two businesses Sylvester ran in the Bronx. illegal poker machine vending operation.

That came to a screeching halt in 2018, when the 71-year-old was killed in the drive-through of a McDonald’s in the Bronx while getting a cup of coffee. Bushawn Shelton, an alleged gang member, has pleaded guilty to a role in the murder plot.

Zottola is on trial with Himan Ross and Alfred Lopez. The trio are accused of hiring Shelton to kill Sylvester for $200,000. Zottola allegedly cracked jokes via text to Shelton after the real estate owner was executed.

In this week’s opening statements, proescutors painted a portrait of many assassination attempts made against the elder Zottola. In the year leading up to Sylvester’s murder, he was allegedly stabbed and beaten in separate instances, surviving both. Salvatore was also ambushed by gunmen outside his home at one point, surviving that botched hit.

The mobster, who had connections to both the Lucchese and Bonanno families, was ultimately killed in the Claremont section of the Bronx.

Attorneys for each of the defendants used their opening statements to poke holes in the case of the prosecution. They argued cooperating witnesses aren’t credible and are willing to lie in exchange for lenient sentences.

— Holden Walter-Warner

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