BROOKLYN, N.Y. (PIX11) — Prosecutors trying a mob-related murder-for-hire case in federal court ended their Thursday session in a dramatic fashion when they showed the jury a box filled with water bottles and wads of cash stuffed in between them.
The federal government alleged Anthony Zottola paid the Bloods gang to murder his 71-year-old father, Sylvester — known as Sally Daz — and wanted the crew to also kill his brother, Salvatore. Police said the various gang members recruited for the job failed for more than a year but finally killed Sylvester Zottola at a McDonald’s drive-thru on Oct. 4, 2018.
FBI Special Agent Michael Zoufal continued his testimony Thursday and talked about the cellphone photo showing water bottles and cash, delivered to admitted Bloods member Bushawn Shelton a day after Sylvester Zottola was killed.
“These appear to be $100 bills and they’re banded in sets of $5,000,” Zoufal said.
Within minutes of Sylvester Zottola’s execution, prosecutors said Shelton texted Anthony Zottola asking, “Can we party today or tomorrow?”
Prosecutors said this was code for Shelton asking about payment for the hit. Anthony Zottola responded to Shelton, “It’s my little man’s birthday,” referring to his son.
But the morning after the shooting, the government told jurors Anthony Zottola was texting Shelton about payment at 7:04 a.m.
“Going to get half the case of water,” the text message said.
Prosecutors said Anthony Zottola paid out some $200,000 over more than a year to get his father and brother killed. The feds said Anthony Zottola wanted control of the family’s real estate empire, worth $45 million.
The accused gunman in the McDonald’s case, Himen Ross, was living in a shelter when he allegedly got involved in the scheme. He was supposed to get $10,000 from Shelton, who confessed he recruited multiple men for the operation.
Text messages revealed frequent contact between Anthony Zottola and Shelton, who lived in Brooklyn and wore a shirt and tie to his “staff recruiting” job on Long Island.
The texts reveal Anthony Zottola developed a bond with Shelton, helping Shelton deal with permit problems for construction he was doing on his Brooklyn home.
“U truly my brother,” prosecutors said Anthony Zottola texted to Shelton.