A Brooklyn man believed to be a high-ranking member of the Bloods has been arrested in connection with an elaborate murder-for-hire scheme that reportedly led to the broad daylight shootings of a well-known mob associate and his son.
Bushawn Shelton, 34, was arrested and charged Thursday for paying a hitman to murder two men, one of whom was killed "in a drive-through lane of a fast food restaurant in the Bronx,” according to a criminal complaint. Though the targets are not mentioned by name, they are widely believed to be Sylvester Zottola, 71, and his 41-year-old son, Salvatore Zottola. Both men are noted associates of the infamous Bonanno crime family, police said, and both were repeatedly hunted by a mysterious assassin throughout the last year.
On October 4th, following several attempts on his life, Sylvester Zottola was boxed in by cars and fatally shot in the head, chest and shoulder at a McDonald’s on Webster Avenue. Three months earlier, his son was ambushed by a gunman on a quiet street in Throgs Neck, and barely survived the attack. Neither hit resulted in immediate arrests, and the case was eventually turned over to federal investigators.
On Thursday, police executed a search warrant on Shelton's East New York home, where they say they found $45,000 in cash and a loaded gun. While court documents make no mention of a motive for the killing, police sources tell the Post the hits may have been ordered by "Albanian gangsters looking to take over an illegal gambling racket involving 'Joker Poker' video games that Zottola ran."
In addition to supplying the video machines to Bonanno-controlled gambling hubs, the elder Zottola also had ties to the Genovese and Lucheses crime families, according to an investigator who spokes to the Times.
A criminal complaint shows that an unnamed hitman pleaded guilty to killing the Zottolas and has become a cooperating witness. He is reportedly willing to testify that Shelton paid him to murder the Zottolas, and accompanied him to spots frequently visited by the father and son in order to carry out the killings. Shelton is also accused of providing firearms and getaway drivers to the assassin.
Shelton did not enter a plea during his court appearance on Thursday, and is expected to return to court on Friday for a detention hearing.