BROOKLYN (PIX11) — A Gambino crime family associate was convicted Tuesday in the “brutal” murder and robbery of a Brooklyn loanshark over $750,000, prosecutors announced.
Anthony Pandrella, 62, faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and the possibility of life behind bars for the October 2018 killing after a jury found him guilty of all counts in Brooklyn federal court.
Believing that he was under law-enforcement investigation, victim Vincent Zito, who ran an illegal loansharking business, asked Pandrella to hold on to $750,000 for him until the heat died down, authorities said. But when Zito, 77, later tried to collect the six-figure sum, Pandrella refused to give it up, according to prosecutors, who described the two men as friends of more than 30 years.
On Oct. 26, 2018, Pandrella paid a visit to Zito’s Sheepshead Bay home and shot him in the back of the head at close range, authorities said. Before leaving, Pandrella also swiped expensive, foreign-made watches that Zito had been holding as collateral for a loan.
Zito’s 11-year-old grandson discovered the victim’s body upon returning home from school.
Surveillance video captured Pandrella entering and leaving Zito’s home around the time of the killing, and investigators recovered the murder weapon at the scene. The gun had Pandrella’s DNA on both the trigger and grip, according to prosecutors.
Pandrella was convicted following a trial that lasted a week and a half.
“Today’s verdict has found that the defendant is a cold-blooded killer who shot his elderly friend in his home, execution-style with a bullet in the back of the head, to avoid returning a large sum of money he was holding for the victim,” said United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace in a statement released Tuesday. “In addition to the brutal betrayal, the defendant also robbed luxury watches from the victim’s loan business. I commend the FBI special agents and the NYPD detectives who solved the case and brought Pandrella to justice.”
Added NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell in part, “Today’s conviction underscores that no one – including associates of organized crime – is above the law.”