A Gambino family associate was sentenced to 40 years in prison for fatally shooting his longtime loan shark friend after he refused to return the $750,000 he was ‘safekeeping.’
Anthony Pandrella, 63, learned his fate in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday, for the 2018 execution-style murder of 77-year-old Vincent Zito, the Department of Justice announced.
The sordid saga began when Zito, who had been running an illegal loansharking business was warned by Pandrella that he was ‘hot,’ meaning that he was under investigation by law enforcement.
So Zito, who had connections to the Lucchese crime family, gave Pandrella $750,000 from the business to hold for safekeeping. But when Zito later tried to collect the money back, his pal of 30 years said it had mysteriously vanished.
Just weeks before the murder, a furious Zito was heard threatening to kill Pandrella, who had by then given a portion of the money back.
On October 26, 2018, Pandrella told Zito he was ready to pay up and showed up at his Brooklyn home. But instead of handing over the cash, Pandrella put a bullet in the back of his friend’s head.
Pandrella was convicted of the charges following a trial in June 2022.
Anthony Pandrella, 63, of Brooklyn, (pictured) was sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing his friend Vincent Zito, 77, after Pandrella refused to return the $750K he was ‘safekeeping’
Zito (pictured) was reportedly angered by Pandrella’s claim that the money had disappeared and was overheard at a restaurant threatening to kill him. He had loaned Pandrella the money after he had told him he was ‘hot,’ meaning the police were potentially onto his shady business
Joseph and Samantha Zito, daughter and son of the victim, speak exclusively to the Daily Mail after Anthony Pandrella was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder of Vincent Zito
In June, the jury deliberated for just an hour and a half before convicting Pandrella on all three counts, robbery, murder and unlawful use of a firearm.
On Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court, Pandrella, who is an associate of the Gambino organized crime family, was sentenced by United States Chief District Judge Margo K. Brodie to 40 years in prison for the murder of Zito, Hobbs Act robbery and unlawful use of a firearm.
‘All for greed, the defendant ruthlessly executed his longtime friend after being welcomed into his home,’ stated United States Attorney Peace. ‘Pandrella’s cold-blooded crime has cost him dearly with the loss of his freedom for decades.’
Zito’s family gathered outside the courthouse in Brooklyn on Wednesday when they got the news that their loved one’s killer would spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Samantha Zito, daughter of Zito spoke exclusively to the Daily Mail after Anthony Pandrella was sentenced to 40 years in prison for Zito’s murder
Joseph Zito, son of Zito, spotted outside court in Brooklyn on Wednesday after Anthony Pandrella was sentenced to 40 years in prison
Zito’s body was found by his grandson, 11, when he returned home from school, the US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York had previously said.
The firearm was found next to Zito, who was laying face-up, and it is believed that Pandrella set it up to look like a suicide.
The murder weapon recovered at the scene was covered in Pandrella’s DNA, the Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
The two men were friends for 30 years before the tragedy unfolded.
Two witnesses revealed during the three-week trial that Zito was furious with the Brooklynite over the money he had not returned and had threatened to kill him, the New York Daily News reported.
‘I gave him $750,000 and he said it’s gone. The fat f**k stole my money,’ one witness testified hearing Zito say at a restaurant.
Pandrella had told Zito that the money had disappeared from his basement. He did, however, end up giving Zito $300,000 after selling the property, the NYDN reported.
Vincent Zito was killed inside his home (pictured) in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn on October 26, 2018, and was found by his 11-year-old grandson when he came home from school
On the morning of the murder, Pandrella had told Zito he was paying off his debt. But instead, he showed up at Zito’s Sheepshead Bay home and shot him in the head at ‘close range.’
Pandrella was seen leaving the property on grainy surveillance footage at the time of the murder. When he arrived at his own home, security footage showed the gangster changing his clothing and removing the passenger’s side floor mat from his car ‘so it could be cleaned.’
Pandrella also stole ‘luxury watches’ from Zito’s ‘loansharking business,’ that he was apparently holding as ‘collateral’ for a customer’s loan, officials said.