Jury finds son guilty of hiring hitman to kill father in NYC

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NEW YORK (AP) — A New York man was convicted Wednesday of orchestrating the murder of his father in what prosecutors said was a plot to take over the older man’s lucrative real estate empire.

A federal jury found Anthony Zottola Sr. and an associate guilty of conspiracy and murder-for-hire in the October 2018 killing of 71-year-old Sylvester Zottola, who was shot was he waited to pick up a cup of coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the Bronx. Anthony Zottola also tried unsuccessfully to have his brother, Salvatore Zottola, killed, according to prosecutors.

Both men face mandatory life terms after the guilty verdict in the six-week trial.

The killing of Sylvester Zottola culminated what prosecutors said was a yearlong series of bungled attempts by hired killers to rub out both him and Salvatore Zottola, at the behest of Anthony Zottola.

Sylvester Zottola was threatened by a masked gunman in late 2017 and later survived being stabbed and having his throat slashed. Salvatore Zottola was shot in the head, chest and hand in front of his residence but survived, according to prosecutors.

Himen Ross, who was convicted Wednesday on the same counts as Anthony Zottola, tailed the elder Zottola to the McDonald’s with the help of a tracking device placed in his car and shot him multiple times, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Five other defendants have pleaded guilty, including Bushawn Shelton, who prosecutors alleged was hired by Anthony Zottola and then engaged Ross to carry out the hit. Another man, Alfred Lopez, was acquitted on all counts Wednesday.

Anthony Zottola, 44, of Larchmont, helped manage properties for his father’s real estate business, which consisted of multi-family rental properties valued in the tens of millions of dollars. Prosecutors alleged the business was built on illegal gambling proceeds connected to the mob.

“Over the course of more than a year, the elderly victim, Sylvester Zottola, was stalked, beaten, and stabbed, never knowing who orchestrated the attacks,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said Wednesday. “It was his own son, who was so determined to control the family’s lucrative real estate business that he hired a gang of hit men to murder his father.”

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