Sylvester Zottola, Bronx-Based Bonanno Mobster, Shot Dead In "Mafia-Style Assassination"

UPDATED SATURDAY MORNING 
A reputed associate of the Bonanno crime family — whose son was shot multiple times in an attempted hit this past July — was shot and killed today (October 4) at around 4:45 p.m. at a McDonald’s drive thru in the Bronx.

Crime scene from today's gang land shooting


Sylvester Zottola, 71, a Bonanno crime family associate, was shot in the head, chest, and shoulder while waiting in his SUV for a cup of coffee at the drive-through window.

In what one law enforcement official described as a "Mafia-style assassination," Zottola was shot once in the head and four times in the torso.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A “massive” police investigation has commenced. The McDonald’s parking lot has crime scene tape across it, and dozens of law enforcement investigators and other personnel were seen there.

The still-at-large suspect reportedly walked up on the victim while he was ordering food. The suspect fired multiple shots into the driver while positioned at the passenger window, then fled the scene. Some reports say he fled the scene in a gray vehicle.


In addition, to the shooting of his son this past summer, Sylvester had been attacked three times in the past year.



The investigation into the incidents was passed from the Bronx district attorney’s office to federal investigators earlier this year. The United States Attorney’s Office declined to comment for the New York Times.


Eyewitnesses

In the parking lot of the McDonald’s on Thursday evening, bullet holes were visible in the passenger-side window of the maroon SUV.

Juan Bravo, who owns an auto body shop nearby, told the New York Times that he was in a paint store across the street from the McDonald’s when he heard gunshots.

“Two minutes later it was commotion with ambulances,” he said.

Bravo said he believed that a woman and a baby were in the car, but that they appeared to be unharmed. He said that video footage from his shop and from the paint store had been shared with the police.

Alexandra Cuatlayo, a high school senior who had planned to stop at the McDonald’s on the way to her home in Claremont Village, told the Times that violence was common in the neighborhood.

“For this area it’s pretty usual,” she said. “This area is really active. Around where I live, someone was shot there, too. So this area is really iffy.”


His 41-year-old son, Salvatore, who has the same nickname, was injured when a gunman opened fire on him outside his Bronx home on July 11.


The July shooting was captured on surveillance video.

The younger Zottola did not cooperate with authorities and no arrests were made, sources said.

Investigators believe the attack months ago on Salvatore was intended as a message for his father.

In September 2017, the elder Zottola was walking near his Bronx home when an assailant clubbed him over the head, sources said. Two months later, a gun-wielding thug tried unsuccessfully to force Sylvester Zottola into a car at Meagher Avenue and the Throgs Neck Expressway, sources added.

The most vicious run-in came on a late December night when Sylvester Zottola walked in on three burglars ransacking his home.

One burglar pulled a knife and stabbed Zottola in the neck, putting him in critical condition in Jacobi Medical Center.

No arrests had been made Thursday evening in Zottola’s slaying.


Tonight at the scene of the shooting in the Bronx....


This past July, the son Salvatore walked out of his Bronx home and into a hail of bullets at 6:40 a.m.

The shooter had pulled up in a dark-colored Nissan sedan and opened fire as Sally Daz walked to his car, shooting him multiple times – including once to the head and three times in his torso.

The gunman then leaped back into a waiting vehicle and sped away.

It’s believed that Zottola knew his attacker however.

After Sally Daz, the most recent known gangland hit was the 2013 Michael Meldish murder, also in the Bronx. That execution, allegedly sanctioned by the Luchese crime family, may have been in response to Meldish's attempted effort to whack a Bonanno mobster. There's problems with the case, Jerry Capeci has reported on Gang Land News.

Police recovered four shell casings at the scene. A pool of blood was reportedly visible in the street a few feet from the curb.

Sally Daz's son also refused to cooperate with investigators, after FBI agents descended on Zottola’s home in Locust Point. They were forced to take surveillance footage from a neighboring yacht club after Zottola denied them access to the houses’ cameras.

Zottola and his family reportedly own three pricey four-story homes on the street where the attempted hit occurred, as Larry McShane reported, all of which overlook the water off the eastern tip of the Bronx.

Shooter leaped out of car, ran up to Sally Daz and fired at point blank range.


Zottola is an associate of the Bonanno crime family with ties to former boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano, serving life now.

In 1999, he allowed Basciano’s mistress to stay in one of his Bronx homes — unaware that a mob investigator had unwittingly moved into a house across the street.

Vinny’s girlfriend Debra Kalb was a hairdresser at Vinny's “Hello Gorgeous" salon.

Retired NYPD detective Thomas Crowe had just moved into an apartment in Pelham Bay, the Bronx, when he spotted Basciano’s car blocking his driveway.

The detective, who worked for 17 years in the city’s organized crime division, realized he had unintentionally moved into a house neighbouring the mob boss’s mistress.

In Basciano's 2011 trial, Crowe testified that he took advantage of the situation and shot surveillance photos from his house.


Vinny B and Sally Daz as photographed by cop across the street.

Basciano made almost daily visits to the house to visit Kalb and their child during the year that Crowe lived there.

"I would see him routinely on a daily basis at some point," Crowe told Brooklyn Federal Court.

Crowe used his living room to monitor Basciano’s meetings with fellow mobsters on Kalb’s patio and front steps. He took photos of the meetings through his living room blinds.

"My wife was nervous about it, she told me to stop doing it," Crowe told the Daily News outside court. "I just kept a low profile."

Crowe said he photographed Basciano with several members of the Bonanno crime family.

Sally Daz's father was identified in a memo from Basciano's 2011 Eastern District trial as a Luchese associate who "maintained" Basciano's videopoker machines.

"Dominick Cicale and other Bonanno members and associates (were ordered by Basciano) to assault Frank Porco in response to a dispute that had arisen between Porco and... Zottola, a Luchese family associate who maintained Basciano’s joker-poker machines.”

Frank Porco was identified as a captain in the Bonanno crime family in a 2006 report that noted that Frank's great nephew had been murdered.

"Frank Porco later pleaded guilty to (racketeering and related) charges and was sentenced to 24 months in prison, which was what he faced under federal sentencing guidelines. He did not cooperate with authorities in the investigation, according to court records and attorneys in the case.

"Prosecutors said Frank Porco's case was deeply researched by a State Police investigator who determined his background had nothing to do with (the great nephew) Peter Porco's murder."

As for the 2011 Bonanno boss trial, Basciano's lawyers tried to keep the Porco assault out though the Fed's argued: "it is admissible for the following purposes: (1) to show the origins of the relationship between Basciano and Zottola (who allegedly participated in the joker-poker gambling offense together); (2) to corroborate Cicale’s testimony regarding one or more charged offenses; and (3) to show Basciano’s supervisory position in the charged enterprise.

"Basciano argues that evidence of the Porco assault “would appear to have minimal probative value” and is prejudicial because “its inclusion on the lengthy list of uncharged crimes of violence [ ] helps steer the jury down the road of Basciano’s violence propensity.”

"The court finds that the alleged Porco assault is admissible. The Government has identified numerous ways in which the assault is probative of Basciano’s participation in the charged joker-poker gambling offense and of Basciano’s position of authority within the enterprise. Further, in light of the seriousness of the charged conduct (including murder and murder soliciation) and the fact that uncharged murders are admissible, the Porco assault is likely to cause very little prejudice. ...

"In short, the alleged Porco assault is admissible. "




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