New York man accused of murder-for-hire plot against his father and brother, prosecutor says

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A New York man has been accused of hiring gang members to kill his father at a McDonald’s drive-through and ordering an attempted hit on his brother, according to federal prosecutors.

Anthony Zottola Sr., 41, allegedly plotted with members of the Bloods gang to fatally shot his 71-year-old father, Sylvester Zottola, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

The elder Zottola was gunned down on October 4 in his vehicle as he waited for an order at a McDonald’s in the Bronx, prosecutors said. The father had survived two previous attempts on his life — in December 2017 and July 2018, according to prosecutors.

Anthony Zottola, a Westchester County resident, is also accused of the near-fatal shooting of his brother, Salvatore Zottola, on July 11, 2018, prosecutors said in a statement.

Zottola and three other defendants were arrested Tuesday. They entered not guilty pleas to the indictment charging them with murder-for-hire conspiracy, according to prosecutors. One other defendant is a fugitive.

It’s unclear whether Zottola has an attorney.

“There is apparently no love lost between Mr. Zottola and his family members, so much so he allegedly hired members of the Bloods gang to kill his brother and father,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York office, William Sweeney, said in the statement.

“As alleged, Zottola Sr. set in motion a deadly plot to kill his father and brother, with Bloods gang members carrying out extreme acts of violence to collect a payoff for the hits,” said United States Attorney Richard Donoghue.

Anthony Zottola allegedly hired Bushawn Shelton, a member of the Bloods street gang, to carry out the murders of his father and his brother, according to prosecutors. Shelton allegedly enlisted others to commit the murders.

“Zottola Sr. and Shelton referred to the planned murders as ‘filming’ a movie, but thanks to the outstanding work of law enforcement, the ending of their plot will take place in a federal courthouse,” Donoghue said.

Shelton’s attorney, Ruth M. Liebesman, said her client has pleaded not guilty and intends to fight the charges in court. “This case is not all it’s made out to be,” she said.

Chief Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann rejected Zottola’s application to be released on a $1.5 million bond. All four defendants were remanded.

Five other defendants, including Shelton, were previously indicted in the alleged murder-for-hire conspiracy. Other charges include unlawful use and possession of firearms, causing death through use of a firearm and perjury.

If convicted of conspiring to commit a murder-for-hire, the defendants face a mandatory penalty of life imprisonment, or possibly the death penalty, according to prosecutors.

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