Defendant Allegedly Shot the Victim in the Back of the Head, Then Disposed of Evidence
Brooklyn, N.Y. – An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn 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. The indictment was returned under seal by a federal grand jury on March 7, 2019. Pandrella was arrested last night and is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon 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.
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 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.
Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-122 (MKB)
SOURCE: news provided by JUSTICE.GOV on March 14, 2019.