Lawyers spar over texts in NYC murder-for-hire trial of man accused of killing his Bronx mobster dad

A jury on Friday began deliberating the fate of a well-known Bronx mobster whose lawyer said frequent messaging between his client and an alleged hitman was insufficient to prove he murdered his own father.

However, prosecutors said the text messages between the accused Anthony Zottola and a gang member who pleaded guilty to the murder conspiracy constituted a “conspiracy in action” to wipe out alleged mob boss Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola.

Texts between Zottola and alleged gang member Bushawn Shelton discussed “actors,” a “movie,” and a “dressing room,” which prosecutors said were code for family members Zottola wanted to kill.

“These are the testimonies of Anthony Zottola throughout the year,” Assistant US Attorney Kayla Bensing told jurors during the closing arguments of the Brooklyn Federal Court trial. “The texts are the conspiracy in action.”

But Zottola’s attorney, Henry Mazurek, called Shelton “a criminal tide” who acted on his own.

“Pull off those dirty lenses that the government is asking you to do,” Mazurek said. “If Shelton had really been hired by Anthony Zottola for this job, it would have been different.”

The jury was dismissed for the weekend without returning a verdict.

Sylvester Zottola, 71, was executed on October 4, 2018 while behind the wheel of his car while waiting for coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the Bronx.

Prosecutors said a conspirator texted Shelton a one-word message after the shooting: “Done.”

Shelton then passed the floor to Zottola, which prosecutors said was a coded message also asking for his payment: “Can we celebrate today or tomorrow?”

Prosecutors are charging Anthony Zottola with paying the Bloods gang leader to lead a year-long hit-and-run so he can take over his father’s $45 million real estate business.

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Sylvester Zottola was the subject of several botched assassination attempts in the year leading up to his final assassination.

Prosecutors said “Sally Daz” survived five separate attacks.

First, Shelton tried to kill Sally Daz himself, prosecutors said.

On November 26, 2017, Shelton donned a ski mask, pulled up behind the gangster’s car at Edgewater Park near the Throgs Neck Expressway, got out and charged at him with a gun, prosecutors allege.

However, Sally Daz was too quick, spinning his car backwards and doing a desperate U-turn to get away.

Shelton then sent a wave of hired lackeys to carry out the act, prosecutors said. Officials claimed the hired hands behind the attacks were members of the notorious street gang, the Bloods.

The gangster’s fate was sealed when he was murdered on October 4, 2018 while waiting for coffee at the drive-through window of a Bronx McDonald’s.

Authorities said a photo with $200,000 in cash was taken a day after the killing and found on a cell phone of Shelton.

If convicted, Zottola faces the death penalty.