Manager of Sex Trafficking and Prostitution Ring Indicted on Racketeering and Related Charges Along With Two of the Organization’s Enforcers
Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, United States District Judge Hector Gonzalez sentenced Bushawn Shelton to 37 years’ imprisonment for his leadership role in the October 4, 2018 killing of 71-year-old Sylvester Zottola and the July 11, 2018 attempted murder of Salvatore Zottola. The defendant pleaded guilty to murder-for-hire and murder-for-hire conspiracy on August 22, 2022.
Co-defendants Anthony Zottola and Himen Ross were sentenced to life imprisonment following their convictions at trial. Co-defendants Herman Blanco, Arthur Codner, Jason Cummings, and Branden Peterson previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment that ranged from 16 to 22 years.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the sentence.
“For more than a year, the defendant led the charge in stalking, beating, stabbing, and eventually shooting an elderly man purely for money,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “The lengthy sentence meted out brings an end to the brutality of this violent group. The community is safer as a result.”
As proven at the trial of Shelton’s co-conspirators, Anthony Zottola, Sr., hired Bushawn Shelton to kill Zottola’s father, Sylvester, and his brother, Salvatore. Shelton recruited numerous others to commit the murders, and together they engaged in a year-long conspiracy to carry out a series of violent attacks against Sylvester and Salvatore Zottola. Among other attempts, on November 26, 2017, Sylvester Zottola was menaced at gunpoint by a masked individual. On December 27, 2017, three men invaded Sylvester Zottola’s residence, struck him on the head with a gun, stabbed him multiple times, and slashed his throat. Zottola survived the attack. On July 11, 2018, a gunman shot Salvatore Zottola in the head, chest, and hand in front of his residence. Zottola survived the shooting.
Shelton arranged for the placement of a tracking device on Sylvester Zottola’s car, allowing co-defendant Himen Ross, a fellow Bloods gang member, to track Sylvester Zottola to a McDonald’s restaurant on Webster Avenue. There, while Zottola waited at the drive-through to pick up a cup of coffee, Ross fatally shot him multiple times. Ross and Shelton exchanged texts immediately after the hit, and then Shelton and Anthony Zottola exchanged texts, in which Anthony was informed that his father had just been murdered. Shelton texted Anthony Zottola: “Can we party today or tomorrow?” Anthony Zottola assured Shelton that he would have Shelton’s payment for carrying out the murder ready soon: “I have the cases of water in a day or so.” A photograph later recovered from one of Shelton’s cellular telephones depicts a cardboard box of bottled water, as well as over $200,000 in banded currency.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Kayla C. Bensing, Emily J. Dean, Devon Lash, and Andrew M. Roddin are in charge of the prosecution, with the assistance of paralegal specialist Brittany Wissel. Assistant United States Attorney Brian Morris assisted with forfeiture matters.
BUSHAWN SHELTON (also known as “Shellz”)
Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-609 (S-3) (HG)
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney’s Office