Authorities have charged 34-year-old Bloods gang member Bushawn “Shelz” Shelton with conspiring to murder Sylvester and his son Salvatore Zottola. The case against Shelton was aided by a cooperating witness who claimed he was paid by Shelton to serve as a hitman and kill Zottola’s son. He plead guilty to various crimes including murder for hire conspiracy. The feds were able to corroborate the witnesses story with physical evidence that included video surveillance and phone records etc.
Authorities believe the shooting of the younger Zottola in July was carried out in an effort to lure his dad out in the open so he could be killed. He was attacked outside his families compound in The Bronx and shot several times but somehow he avoided being killed. The elder Zottola had survived previous attempts on his life before being murdered on October 4th. He was shot multiple times while waiting for coffee at Bronx McDonald’s as previously reported on here.
The hits on the Zottola’s may have been ordered by Albanian mobsters according to source from a recent NY Post report. It seems the Albanians may be making a move to take control of the illegal gambling operation involving Video Poker machines that the Zottola family ran. Sylvester Zottola an associate of the Bonanno crime family had close ties to former boss Vincent Basciano. It’s unclear as to what ties remained between the Cosa Nostra family and the Zottola’s after Basciano went away for life.
If Zottola was still under the Bonanno flag and was still kicking up to someone this could be seen as a blatant attack against their interest. It will be interesting to see what steps if any are taken by the New York Mafia family in the form of retaliation if this was indeed the case. The investigation is ongoing but this new information certainly adds an interesting twist which if accurate could mean more violence is on the way. It would be kind of conflict that the American Mafia has tried to avoid over the last decade or so.
The Bonanno family has certainly had its share of instability over the last few years. Much of the mafia families current administration is either behind bars and or under indictment. Perhaps the Albanian mobsters saw this as an opportunity to make a move on a lucrative racket while the NY Mafia family was unstable and wavering. Either that or after Basciano was sent to prison for life Sylvester Zottola decided to venture out on his own and was no longer under the protection of the mafia.