BROOKLYN — Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn Friday accused a second reputed member of the Bloods gang with a "murder for hire" hit on a 71-year-old associate of the Bonanno crime family.
Herman “Taliban” Blanco was named in a federal complaint. FBI agent Michael Zoufal stated Blanco and another reputed Bloods member, Bushawn Shelton, offered to pay a cooperating witness if he’d kill Sylvester Zottola and his son, Salvatore.
Salvatore Zottola survived an attempted hit that was captured on surveillance footage on July 11.
His father, Sylvester, was finally killed Oct. 4, fatally shot at a McDonald’s drive-thru, after multiple, previous attempts to kill him.
For more than four decades, Sylvester Zottola had controlled the “Joker Poker” games and other vending machines that were put into many bars and restaurants in the Bronx.
He was owner of DAZ Amusements, and his nickname was “Sally DAZ.”
Law enforcement sources said Albanian gangsters may have wanted to take over some of Zottola’s turf.
FBI Agent Zoufal happens to work for the squad that investigates Balkan and Middle Eastern organized crime.
The federal complaint stated that the plots to target Sylvester Zottola dated back to at least September 2017.
It says on Nov. 26, 2017, a dark van pulled up next to Zottola’s vehicle and then in front of it, forcing the elderly man to stop.
A masked man wearing gloves left the van and pointed a gun at Zottola, but Zottola managed to drive away unharmed.
Then, on or about December 27, 2017, three masked men, armed with guns, attacked Zottola as he entered his home in the Bronx. The men had gained access to Zottola’s home, stabbing him multiple times in the neck and chest and hitting him in the head. He was also robbed.
Sylvester Zottola survived the December attack, but his troubles weren’t over.
The complaint notes that in April 2018, a man pointed a gun at Zottola’s son near the son’s luxury home in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx.
Then, on June 12, Sylvester Zottola fired a shot at a gunman who showed up outside his house.
On July 11, surveillance footage showed a red Nissan Altima pulling up beside Zottola’s son, Sal, as he exited his vehicle outside his home.
A man in the passenger seat started repeatedly firing a gun at the younger Zottola, who rolled around on the ground behind his car, trying to avoid more bullets.
The gunman got out of the car and kept firing at Zottola. The shooter then got back in the Nissan, and an accomplice drove away.
Zottola survived the shooting and did not cooperate with authorities.
Finally, on October 4, Sylvester Zottola was fatally shot in his car, as he waited for coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru on Webster Avenue in the Bronx.
The gunman fled the parking lot on foot and then hopped into a waiting car to get away.
A law enforcement source told us the most recent suspect, Herman Blanco, was paroled from state prison last year, after being sentenced to 12 and a half years for a vicious assault and burglary.
Blanco had been thrown back in prison last month for a parole violation.
He was set to be arraigned in the murder for hire plot Friday afternoon.