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New York man sentenced to life in prison for ordering murder-for-hire hit on his brother and mob-linked father

(WISH Photo, File)

(CNN) — A man convicted for ordering a murder-for-hire hit on his brother and Mafia-associated father in the Bronx, New York was sentenced to life in prison Friday, federal prosecutors said.

Anthony Zottola Sr., 45, and co-conspirator Himen Ross, 37, were each sentenced to mandatory life sentences plus 112 years in federal prison after a jury found them guilty in 2022 of hiring gang members to murder Zottola’s 71-year-old father, Sylvester, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Sylvester Zottola was fatally shot in October 2018 as he waited for a cup of coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru, authorities said.

Federal prosecutors say the shooting was the third attempt on Sylvester Zottola’s life as part of his son’s scheme to take control of the family’s real-estate business. Prosecutors had previously said Sylvester Zottola, known as ‘Sally Daz,’ was an associate of the Lucchese family, one of the five mob families that historically dominated New York, and worked with another known mobster, Vincent Basciano, a former boss of the Bonanno crime family.

In November 2017, Sylvester Zottola was menaced at gunpoint by a masked person, and in December 2017, three men invaded his home, struck him on the head with a gun, stabbed him, and slashed his throat. He survived the first two attempts on his life, prosecutors said.

In the final murder attempt — which led to Sylvester Zottola’s death — a tracking device had been placed on his car that allowed Ross, who carried out the shooting, to track him to the McDonald’s restaurant, prosecutors 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,” US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “For sentencing his father to a violent death, Anthony Zottola and his co-defendant will spend the rest of their lives in prison.”

Separately, the defendant’s brother, Salvatore Zottola, was shot in the head, chest and hand in front of his home in July 2018, authorities said. He survived the attack and testified at the trial, CNN previously reported.

One of Anthony Zottola’s attorneys previously placed blame for the attacks on the Bloods gang.

“A violent street gang preyed upon Anthony and his family and caused their tragic ruin. We will appeal this verdict to prevent Anthony from becoming another victim of the Bloods gang. He is not guilty of these violent crimes,” defense attorney Henry E. Mazurek said in October.

Sylvester Zottola held a residential real estate portfolio valued at tens of millions of dollars, and prosecutors said Anthony Zottola, who helped manage the properties, plotted to kill his father and brother to take control of the business.

The additional 112 years of imprisonment added to Zottola and Ross’ sentences represents the combined ages of Zottola’s father, 71, and brother, 41, when they were shot, the US Attorney’s Office said.

Ilana Haramati, another of Zottola’s attorneys, said her client will “vigorously pursue an appeal to vindicate his innocence.”

“Anthony Zottola is a loving father and husband,” Haramati told CNN Saturday. “His sentence to death by incarceration will only compound the trauma that the Zottola family has already suffered.”

Lawyers for Ross have not yet responded to CNN’s request for comment.

Six other defendants have pleaded guilty for their roles in the murder-for-hire conspiracy, the US Attorney’s Office said.