A federal jury found Anthony Zottola, 45, guilty in October of orchestrating a plot to kill his 71-year-old dad and try to murder his brother — by sending a bumbling band of Bloods gangsters to his relatives’ doorsteps for nearly a year before they finally succeeded.
A mobster’s son turned white as a ghost Wednesday as he was convicted of ordering his dad’s assassination at a McDonald’s drive-thru in The Bronx.
The dramatic scene played out in Brooklyn federal court, where Anthony Zottola, 44, slumped silently in his chair, hanging his head in despair, as the blood drained from his face — and his wife burst into hysterics.
Heide Zottola’s loud, uncontrollable sobs in the gallery prompted court officers to clear spectators from the courtroom.
She emerged several moments later being comforted by her brother-in-law, Salvatore Zottola — even though her hubby was convicted of trying to have him killed, too.
The men’s sister, Debbie Zottola, said the verdict left her shattered.
“I remember my brother for the man that he was. I remember my father for the man he was,” she said.
“I was looking at both of my brothers during the verdict. What I felt was heartbreak.”
In addition to convicting Anthony, jurors found Himen Ross, 36, guilty of firing the shots that killed 71-year-old Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola in 2018.
A third defendant, accused getaway driver Alfred Lopez, was acquitted of all charges.
During a month long trial, prosecutors detailed the heinous murder-for-hire plot hatched by Anthony against his dad with the help of a Bloods gang leader, Bushawn Shelton.
The motive was greed — with Anthony angling to take control of his father’s $45 million Bronx real estate empire, prosecutors charged.
In more than 1,000 text messages entered into evidence, Anthony and Shelton — who pleaded guilty prior to the trial — spoke in coded terms about several murder attempts on the elder Zottola.
Prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York revealed a detailed conspiracy between Anthony and Bloods gang leader Bushawn Shelton to carry out a series of attacks on his dad and brother, Salvatore Zottola.
At the direction of Anthony to kill his father, Shelton hired Ross and Lopez to finish the job after another hired gun tried – and failed – at least six times to take out Sylvester and Salvatore, prosecutors charged.
In the minutes after Ross successfully gunned down Sylvester in a Bronx McDonald’s drive-thru on Oct. 4, 2018, Anthony joked about the slaying in a series of texts to Shelton, prosecutors charged in their opening statement.
“Can we party today or tomorrow,” Shelton texted the younger Zottola after the hit.
“Tomorrow. It’s my little man’s bday. I’m taking him to his favorite place, McDonald’s. Then to a movie. LOL like I eat that stuff,” Anthony replied.
The Bloods member texted back that it was like Anthony’s “birthday” that day, Assistant US Attorney Devon Lash said.
“Over the course of more than a year, the elderly victim, Sylvester Zottola, was stalked, beaten, and stabbed, never knowing who orchestrated the attacks.
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,” said Breon Peace, US Attorney for the EDNY.
“For sentencing his father to a violent death, Anthony Zottola and his co-defendant will spend the rest of their lives in prison where they belong as a result of today’s verdict.”
An attorney for Lopez, John Burke, said his client was elated with the outcome.
“Mr Lopez is very pleased. He’s very thankful and very happy,” Burke said. “He has been in jail for three and a half years. We’re going to see him later – we have plans.”
To prove the conspiracy, prosecutors called a parade of witnesses during the case, including Salvatore, who testified under immunity, and a cooperating witness who told jurors he was hired by Shelton to carry out hits on Anthony’s brother and father.
On the stand, the hired gun, Ron Cabey, described at least six botched attempts to rub out Salvatore and Sylvester, a reputed associate of the Bonanno and Lucchese crime families.
In one attempt, Cabey approached Sylvester on the street near one of the aging mobster’s properties in the Bronx and ran off after the real estate kingpin pulled a pistol and fired at him.
Cabey was arrested later that day in a Manhattan taxi depot after bailing out of a car he was riding in that was being pursued by NYPD officers.
Salvatore Zottola (right) arrived at Brooklyn federal court for a trial over the murder of his father.
Anthony’s attorneys tried to paint the elder Zottola as a Bronx underworld figure who may have been gunned down because of his ties to organized crime.
In his closing argument, Anthony’s attorney Henry Mazurek claimed to jurors the hit could’ve been the work of Albanian gangsters in the Bronx who were trying to claim a piece of the illegal gambling machine racket that Sylvester helmed.
“Sylvester Zottola knew his whole life could one day come home to roost,” Mazurek told jurors, adding that other mobsters saw the opportunity to score cash by elbowing in on the racket.
“Gangsters smell cash and they go after it,” he said.
Anthony Zottola is set to be sentenced Feb. 2.