Anthony Pandrella, an associate of the Gambino organized crime family, was convicted on Tuesday by a federal jury in Brooklyn for the robbery and murder of 77-yr-old Vincent Zito.
Zito, a longtime friend of Pandrella, was running an illegal loansharking business and had been told by Pandrella that he was “hot,” meaning that he was under investigation by law enforcement, according to the U.S. Department of Justice report.
Zito gave Pandrella $750,000 from the business to hold for safekeeping, but when he tried to collect the money back from Pandrella, the defendant failed to return it. On the morning of October 26, 2018, Pandrella went to the Sheepshead Bay home of Zito and shot his friend of more than 30 years in the back of the head at close range.
Pandrella also stole expensive foreign-made wristwatches that the victim was holding as collateral for a customer’s loan. Pandrella was captured on security camera footage entering and leaving Zito’s residence at the time of the murder and robbery. After leaving the victim’s residence, Pandrella went home and additional security video from his neighborhood showed he changed his shoes and clothing, and removed the driver’s side floor mat of this vehicle so it could be cleaned.
Zito’s body was discovered by his 11-year-old grandson upon returning home from school. The murder weapon was recovered at the scene and Pandrella’s DNA was found on the trigger and grip of the firearm.
Pandrella was charged with three counts, including the Hobbs Act robbery and murder of Zito and the unlawful use of a firearm. He faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Keechant Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the verdict.
“Today’s conviction underscores that no one – including associates of organized crime – is above the law,” stated Commissioner Sewell.
“Because of the outstanding work of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District and our law enforcement partners at the FBI, this defendant’s callous disregard for human life will not go unanswered. I thank and commend everyone who worked on this case and helped us hold this violent criminal accountable for his actions.”
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