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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Bloods gang leader sentenced to 37 years in prison for role in murder of Bronx Bonanno associate

A Brooklyn Bloods leader who was hired by the son of a Bronx mobster to orchestrate a hit on his dad will spend 37 years behind bars, a federal judge ordered Thursday.

Bushawn Shelton, 39, coordinated the year-long patricide-for-hire scheme to murder Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola, trading a stream of coded texts and chummy banter with the son, Anthony Zottola, who coveted his 71-year-old dad’s multi-million-dollar real estate empire.

As part of the scheme, a hit man repeatedly shot and severely wounded Sally Daz’s other son, Salvatore Zottola.

Shelton pleaded guilty last year to avoid life in prison, just days before he was slated to stand trial alongside Anthony Zottola. Under the terms of his plea deal, he could have been sentenced to between 35 years and 40 years behind bars.

Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Hector Gonzalez decided to split the difference, considering Shelton’s difficult upbringing and decision to take responsibility as he weighed the heinousness of the crime.

“The defendant orchestrated a series of attacks both on Sylvester and Salvatore Zottola over the course of a year that caused terror for this family,” Gonzalez said. “He appears to have done all of this purely out of — there’s no other word but a sense of greed, for payment from Mr. (Anthony) Zottola.”

Shelton repeatedly apologized to Sally Daz’s family, and to his own, in a teary statement to the judge.

“I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry for the pain, trauma and damage I caused your family. I’ve been waiting years to express my regret and my remorse to you,” he said. “All I know how to do is try to be better, and I just want to tell you I’m sorry.”

Anthony Zottola and a second man, Himan Ross — who fired the barrage of bullets that cut down Sally Daz in a Bronx McDonald’s drive-through on Oct. 4, 2018 — were found guilty at trial and sentenced to mandatory terms of life in prison.

Sally Daz built his real estate empire coveted by his son Anthony from the proceeds of his decades running illegal “Joker Poker” gambling machines across the Bronx for the mafia.

Anthony Zottola connected with Shelton through a mutual friend in August 2017, and hiring him to rough up a tenant. Their relationship soon evolved into a plan to beat up and then attempt to kill his father.

In November 2017, Shelton tried to do the deed himself in Edgewater Park near the Throgs Neck Expressway — but Sally Daz pulled his car into reverse and sped off before Shelton could reach him.

In the year that followed, Shelton recruited a hapless array of gang members and criminals to carry out the killing, resulting in several botched hits on both Sally Daz and his son Salvatore.

At the seven-week trial, a bumbling would-be assasssin named Ron Cabey testified about three botched attempts to kill Sally Daz, and another three attempts on Salvatore Zottola’s life.

Ross, who was Cabey’s getaway driver at one point, wound up taking up the gun himself. He shot Salvatore Zottola in the head and chest in a July 11, 2018 ambush outside his Bronx home, and fired the bullets that ultimately ended Sally Daz’s life.

In a sprawling statement to the judge that quoted poetry and at one point referenced the TV show, ‘The Good Place,’ defense lawyer Susan Marcus asked Gonzalez for the minimum 35 years.

“I will be honest that this case nearly broke me,” she said, describing how Shelton survived two attacks and cruel conditions at the notorious Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park. “I have come to know Mr. Shelton... and there is a vast difference between the quality of the man and the harm that was done.”

Salvatore Zottola told the court that he had no interest in Shelton’s apologies.

He rattled off each attack against his father and himself, asking if Shelton was sorry for each one.

“Your apologies mean nothing to me,” he said. “He was my father, and he was hunted down, tracked down, tortured and killed. You killed the best guy that ever was, and you tried to kill me.”



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