A federal judge on Thursday sentenced two gang members for their roles in the plot to murder Bronx mobster Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola — a slaying orchestrated by the victim’s son.
Branden Peterson, 37, and Herman “Taliban” Blanco, 38, are the first of nine defendants to be sentenced in the murder-for-hire plot, which ended with the 71-year-old gangster slain by a fusillade of bullets at a Bronx McDonald’s drive-thru on Oct. 4, 2018.
Judge Raymond Dearie sentenced Peterson to 16 years behind bars, while Blanco was hit with a 22-year sentence.
A jury found Zottola’s son, Anthony Zottola, and the gunman, Himen Ross, guilty of murder-for-hire on Oct. 19. Both face mandatory life sentences when they’re sentenced in February.
Sally Daz was stalked for more than a year, and survived several attacks orchestrated by his son, who wanted control of his multi-million-dollar real estate business, and planned by Bloods gang leader Bushawn Shelton.
Peterson was involved in the very first attack, punching Sally Daz in the neck in his driveway in September 2017, and accompanied Shelton two months later when the gang leader pulled a gun on the mobster and chased him in Edgewater Park near the Throgs Neck Expressway.
Peterson also kept in contact with Shelton throughout the deadly plot.
Blanco played a key role in planning the attacks with Shelton, doing research on the victim’s movements and tracking him with a GPS device. He also helped recruit a “John Wick,” his and Shelton’s code word for a hit man, to kill Sally Daz and whack his other son, Salvatore Zottola.
But the man they initially chose to do the job, Ron Cabey, couldn’t hold a candle to “John Wick,” the master assassin character in a series of popular Keanu Reeves movies.
The fictional “John Wick” killed three men with a pencil, but Cabey couldn’t kill anyone — botching a half-dozen murder attempts on Sally Daz and his son before he was arrested and turned federal cooperator.
Ross proved more effective with a gun — shooting and nearly killing Salvatore Zottola outside his Bronx home on July 11, 2018, and fatally gunning down Sally Daz as he waited for a McDonald’s coffee order.
Shelton, who pleaded guilty to murder-for-hire in exchange for 35 to 40 years behind bars, will be sentenced in March.
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