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Press Release

Son of Murder Victim and a Co-Conspirator Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder-for-Hire Committed at McDonald's Drive-Thru

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Anthony Zottola, Sr. Plotted to Kill His Father and Brother to Take Over Family’s Multi-Million Dollar Real Estate Empire

Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Anthony Zottola, Sr. and Himen Ross were sentenced by United States District Judge Hector Gonzalez to mandatory life imprisonment plus 112 years for their roles in the October 4, 2018 killing of 71-year-old Sylvester Zottola, the father of Anthony Zottola, Sr.  The additional years represent 41 years for Salvatore Zottola’s age when he was shot and 71 years for Sylvester Zottola’s age when he was killed.  In October 2022, following a six-week trial, a federal jury found the defendants guilty of murder-for-hire, conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, and firearms offenses.

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.

“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,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “For sentencing his father to a violent death, Anthony Zottola and his co-defendant will spend the rest of their lives in prison.  I commend our prosecutors, the FBI Special Agents and NYPD detectives for their tremendous investigative work solving this cold-blooded crime and bringing the defendants to justice.”

“Today’s sentence justly punishes Mr. Zottola and Mr. Ross to life imprisonment for their roles in the heartless murder of Sylvester Zottola.  The FBI and the NYPD worked relentlessly to investigate this case and ensure the defendants paid the price for their senseless actions.  Today’s result is a direct reflection of their effort, as well as that of the skilled and dedicated professionals from the Eastern District of New York who prosecuted the case,” stated Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.

Sylvester Zottola controlled a residential real estate portfolio consisting of multi-family rental properties that was valued at tens of millions of dollars at the time of his death. Defendant Anthony Zottola helped manage his father Sylvester Zottola’s real estate business by maintaining the properties, collecting rent, and helping to run A&S Maintenance, a company that was jointly owned by Anthony and his brother Salvatore Zottola.  Anthony Zottola plotted to kill his father and his brother so that he could take control of the family business.

As proven at trial, Anthony Zottola hired co-conspirator Bushawn Shelton to kill his father and his brother, Salvatore.  Shelton recruited 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.  Then on July 11, 2018, a gunman shot Salvatore Zottola in the head, chest, and hand in front of his residence.  Zottola survived the shooting.

The conspirators placed a tracking device on Sylvester Zottola’s car, allowing Ross to track him to a McDonald’s restaurant on Webster Avenue in the Bronx where Ross fatally shot the victim multiple times while the victim waited to pick up a cup of coffee in the drive-through.  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 shows a cardboard box of bottled water, as well as over $200,000 in banded currency. 

Shelton pleaded guilty in August 2022 to murder-for-hire conspiracy and murder-for-hire.  He is awaiting sentencing.  Co-defendants Herman Blanco, Arthur Codner, Jason Cummings, and Branden Peterson previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 240 months’ imprisonment, 228 months’ imprisonment, 204 months’ imprisonment, and 192 months’ imprisonment, respectively.

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.

The Defendants:

HIMEN ROSS (also known as “Ace” and “A Boggie”)
Age:  37
Bronx, New York

Age:  45
Larchmont, New York

Defendants Who Previously Pleaded Guilty:

HERMAN BLANCO (also known as “Taliban” and “L”)
Age:  38
Bronx, New York

ARTHUR CODNER (also known as “Feddi,” “Feddi Bossgod,” and “Scary”)
Age:  34
New Hampton, New York

JASON CUMMINGS (also known as “The Hat” and “Stacks”)
Age:  34
Brooklyn, New York

KALIK MCFARLANE (also known as “Dottkom” and “Dot”)
Age:  40
Brooklyn, New York

BUSHAWN SHELTON (also known as “Shelz”)
Age:  38
Brooklyn, New York

JULIAN SNIPE (also known as “Biz” and “Bizzzy”)
Age:  37  
Bronx, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-609 (S-3) (HG)


John Marzulli
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated April 14, 2023

Violent Crime
Firearms Offenses