Feds Charge Longtime Gambino Associate With Last October Murder Of Luchese Associate

An indictment was unsealed last Thursday (March 14) in Brooklyn federal court charging Anthony Pandrella, an alleged longtime associate of the Gambino organized crime family, with the Hobbs Act robbery and murder of 78-year-old Vincent Zito.

Vincent Zito lived here with son and grandson. (NYDN)

According to the indictment and detention letter, on October 26, 2018, Pandrella met with Zito, a friend of many years, in Zito’s home. While there, he shot Zito in the back of the head at close range, and stole the assets of Zito’s loan business. Pandrella then cleaned up evidence that might link him to the murder. Later that day, Pandrella returned to Zito’s home and met with his family, friends and relatives and tried to learn the status of law enforcement’s investigation. Pandrella was captured on security camera footage coming to and going from Zito’s residence at the time of the robbery and murder. Additionally, Pandrella’s DNA was recovered from the trigger of the murder weapon.

As reported last October, Zito, a loanshark with ties to the Luchese crime family was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head in his Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, home last October.

 Zito had been shot in the back of the head execution style, and was found inside his three-story Sheepshead Bay home. Initially, it was believed Zito may have taken his own life, but the entry wound was in the back of the head, making suicide seem less likely. Some reports say the murder scene may have been staged to appear like a suicide.

The indictment was returned under seal by a federal grand jury on March 7, 2019. Pandrella was arrested last week and was scheduled to be arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.

“As charged in the indictment, Pandrella executed a 78-year-old man in his own home so he could steal from him” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “With today’s arrest, he will now face justice for these brutal crimes.” Mr. Donoghue extended his grateful appreciation to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for its assistance during the investigation.

“An associate of the Gambino crime family allegedly shoots his friend in the back of the head, returns to the home to visit with the family and then thinks he can dispose of the evidence of the crime,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “It takes a certain type of evil to murder a friend in their own home, and then console the grieving relatives. The FBI Joint Organized Crime Task Force hasn’t stopped pursuing members and associates of these crime families and bringing them to justice for their disregard of the law and human life.”

“Stamping out organized crime and the violence that is associated with it remains a priority of the NYPD and its partners in law enforcement,” stated NYPD Commissioner O’Neill. “I want to thank our colleagues at the Eastern District, the FBI, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, and the investigators involved in the case for bringing this individual to justice and for their unceasing efforts to combat organized crime and violence.”

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Pandrella faces up to life imprisonment and is eligible for the death penalty.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gang Section. Assistant United States Attorney M. Kristin Mace is in charge of the prosecution.

As per the indictment:

(Hobbs Act Robbery)
1. On or about October 26, 2018, within the Eastern District of New York, the defendant ANTHONY PANDRELLA did knowing and intentionally obstruct, delay and affect commerce, and the movement of articles and commodities in commerce, by the robbery in Brooklyn, New York, of Vincent Zito, an individual engaged in the business of extending and collecting extensions of credit.

(Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1951(a) and 3551 et seq.)

(Unlawful Use and Possession of a Firearm)

2. On or about October 26, 2018, within the Eastern District of New York, the defendant ANTHONY PANDRELLA did knowingly and intentionally use and carry a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, to wit: the crime charged in Count One, and did knowingly and intentionally possess such firearm in furtherance of said crime of violence, which firearm was brandished and discharged.

(Title 18, United States Code, Sections 924(c)(1)(A)(i), 924(c)(1)(A)(ii),

924(c)(1)(A)(iii) and 3551 et seq.)

(Causing Death Through Use of a Firearm)
3. On or about October 26, 2018, within the Eastern District of New York, the defendant ANTHONY PANDRELLA, in the course of a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c), to wit: the crime charged in Count Two, did knowingly and intentionally cause the death of a person through the use of a firearm, which killing was a murder as defined in Title 18, United States Code, Section 1111(a), in that the defendant, with malice aforethought, did unlawfully kill Vincent Zito willfully, deliberately, maliciously and with premeditation, and in the perpetration of a robbery, to wit: the crime charged in Count One.

(Title 18, United States Code, Sections 924(j)(1) and 3551 et seq.)