Anthony Pandrella, an associate of the notorious Gambino crime family, was sentenced on Wednesday to 40 years in federal prison for the 2018 murder of his longtime friend and loan shark Vincent Zito.
In June, a jury found 62-year-old Pandrella guilty of murder, Hobbs Act robbery, and unlawful use of a firearm after a week-and-a-half long trial. On Oct. 5, U.S. Chief District Judge Margo K. Brodie sentenced the mobster to spend what will likely amount to the rest of his life behind bars.
“With today’s sentence, the NYPD and our law enforcement partners reaffirm our commitment to hold every violent criminal in our community accountable,” said New York City Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell, in a statement. “This defendant showed a callous disregard for human life, and his association with organized crime will not shield him from justice.”
In 2018, Pandrella warned 77-year-old Zito, who was running an illegal loansharking operation, that he was under investigation by law enforcement officials. Zito gave Pandrella — who he had been friends with for more than 30 years — $750,000 for safekeeping as the investigation ran its course, according to federal officials
But when Zito asked for the cash back, Pandrella refused to hand it over, claiming it had “disappeared.” Angry, Zito — who was in poor health, with few customers left, according to court documents — allegedly threatened to kill Pandrella.
On the morning of Oct. 16, 2018, Pandrella went to Zito’s Sheepshead Bay home under the guise of returning some of the cash — but, once inside, the mobster shot his longtime friend twice in the back of the head and stole a number of high-end watches. Pandrella then changed out of his bloody clothing and cleaned out his vehicle to erase evidence of his connection to the crime, according to the U.S. District Attorney in the Eastern District of New York.
Zito’s 11-year-old grandson discovered his body when he returned from school. That evening, Pandrella returned to the home to sit in mourning with his former friend’s family.
Pandrella was arrested in 2019 — security cameras at Zito’s home showed him entering and exiting around the time of the murder, and his DNA was found on the gun he used in the killing, according to federal officials. According to court documents, the mafioso lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his whereabouts on the day of the murder.
“All for greed, the defendant ruthlessly executed his longtime friend after being welcomed into his home,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace. “Pandrella’s cold-blooded crime has host him dearly with the loss of his freedom for decades.”
Monetary restitution will be determined at a later date, according to the court.