Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Older brother testifies against younger brother accused of ordering murder of mobster dad

The Cain and Abel of the Mafia’s “Five Families” faced off in court Wednesday as the eldest son of a slain mobster testified against his younger brother — who‘s accused of orchestrating the 2018 hit on their dad.

Black sheep Anthony Zottola, 44, also allegedly enlisted Bloods gang members to take out his older brother Salvatore Zottola, 45, who described in chilling detail how he was repeatedly shot outside their family’s waterfront residential compound in The Bronx.

Salvatore said he stopped counting after the fifth shot, but believed he may have been struck by seven rounds during the July 11, 2018, assassination attempt.

One bullet even grazed his head but miraculously didn’t penetrate his skull.

“It was like, lights out,” Salvatore told jurors in Brooklyn federal court.

The incident took place less than three months before family patriarch Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola was fatally shot while waiting for a cup of takeout coffee at a drive-thru McDonald’s restaurant window in The Bronx.

Prosecutors allege that Anthony paid a Bloods gang member, Bushawn “Shelz” Shelton, $200,000 to rub out his 71-year-old dad so he could seize control of the older man’s $45 million real estate empire.

His slaying was initially suspected to have been mob-related because Sally Daz — a reputed associate of the Bonanno and Lucchese crime families — was suspected of operating a string of illegal “Joker Poker” gambling machines.

His sons repeatedly stole glances at each other throughout Salvatore’s testimony Wednesday, with Anthony looking impassively at his brother while taking notes at the defense table.

But they never appeared to lock eyes.

Salvatore — who was granted immunity after invoking the Fifth Amendment when called to the witness stand Tuesday — testified that he was knocked to the ground by a shot to his chest that was fired by a man in a car with a New Jersey license plate.

“I tried standing. I fell to the curb. I couldn’t run. Rolling was the best thing I could do,” he said.

A friend and a relative who witnessed the attack “started yelling and screaming at me,” he said.

“They told me to stay down.”

Salvatore said he drifted “in and out of consciousness” but remembered telling the witnesses to take $1,200 stashed in his sock so the attackers wouldn’t get it.

He also asked them to pass along what he feared would be his final message.

“I said, ‘Tell my wife and my kids and my father that I love them,’” he testified.

Following the attack, Salvatore said, Anthony “never came” to visit him in the hospital.

“He said he had to go to a soccer game with his kids,” Salvatore said.

At some point afterward, Salvatore said, he asked Anthony if he knew anything about the origin of the violence directed toward him.

Anthony answered that “he didn’t know where it was coming from, either,” Salvatore said.

The attack on Salvatore was caught on surveillance video that showed him getting shot in a drive-by shooting that took place as he stepped out of a minivan.

Salvatore tried to crawl to safety behind the minivan but the shooter got out of the car and circled around, repeatedly firing as he chased Salvatore, who rolled around in the street.

Prosecutors didn’t show the video during Salvatore’s direct testimony, which concluded late Wednesday afternoon, and it was unclear if it would be entered into evidence later in the trial.

The attack took place in front of a fortified compound of homes dubbed “Zottola’s Court” next to the Locust Point Yacht Club.

In an ironic twist, plaques hanging on the homes there said, “Our foundation is built from love — our strength keeps us together” and “Our walls are built thick — our love for each is thicker.”

Another Zottola sibling, teacher Debbie Zottola, took notes in the courtroom gallery during Salvatore’s testimony and repeatedly broke down in tears.

“This is a traumatizing experience. We were a very, very close family — my brothers, my father and I,” she said outside court.

“We were an indestructible team. I love both of my brothers and will forever treasure what we have as a family.”

A total of 10 men were charged with murder for hire conspiracy in the case, with most, including Shelton, having previously pleaded guilty.

Anthony and his co-defendants faced the possibility of the death penalty in the alleged plot until Attorney General Merrick Garland “authorized and directed” prosecutors to not seek capital punishment in December.

Following that move, Anthony — who was ordered locked up following his June 18, 2019 arrest — sought to be released to electronically monitored house arrest on a $4 million bond secured by seven properties.

The bond was to be signed by Anthony, as well as his wife, sister and brother-in-law, mother-in-law, wife’s uncle and “lifelong friends,” according to court papers.

But Judge Raymond Dearie rejected the request, writing, “While the circumstances have changed for the better for Mr. Zottola, as counsel strongly argues, the realistic prospect of a sentence of life without parole following conviction after trial makes it impossible to alter the Court’s earlier findings and order.”



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