New York Gambino Family Associate Sentenced to 40 Years for Murder

Published: 07 October 2022

Northern esplanade of Manhattan Beach and along Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn NY looking eastThe Gambino family has roots which go back over a century to Sicilian-American street gangs in East Harlem at the turn of the 20th century. (Photo: Ryssby, Wikimedia, License)

By David Klein

A federal court in Brooklyn sentenced a mobster to 40 years behind bars for killing his long-time friend he had fallen out with, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Wednesday. Both men were linked to New York’s infamous Gambino Family.

Anthony Pandrella, 63, and Vincent Zito, 77, had been friends for decades. Pandrella at some point warned his friend he was being investigated by law enforcement. When Zito entrusted him a significant amount of money to hide it from the circling authorities, Pandrella saw a gruesome opportunity.

“Zito was running an illegal loan sharking business and had been warned by Pandrella that he was ‘hot,’ meaning that he was under investigation by law enforcement,” the DOJ explained. “Zito had given 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 while there, shot his friend in the back of the head at close range.”

While there Pandrella also pilfered the site of valuables such as wrist watches. Zito’s body would be discovered later that day by his 11-year-old grandson when he returned from school.

“All for greed, the defendant ruthlessly executed his longtime friend after being welcomed into his home,” said United States Attorney Breon Peace. “Pandrella’s cold-blooded crime has cost him dearly with the loss of his freedom for decades.”

Zito’s killing October 26, 2018 wasn’t the result of a long-thought-buried grudge or a crime of passion, rather it was the type of gangland killing common in the world of the organized crime family they were both connected to.

The Gambino Family is one of the “Five Families” that dominate criminal activities in New York and New Jersey as part of the Italian-American mafia or La Cosa Nostra. The five families have long been entrenched in New York City’s construction industry and labor unions.

The family has roots which go back over a century to Sicilian-American street gangs in East Harlem at the turn of the 20th century. Following the establishment of ‘The Commission’ – a loose ruling body which delineated territory and created the current hierarchy of the Italian-American Mob – the group came under the leadership of Albert Anastasia.

Anastasia was a veteran and leader of Murder inc., a prohibition era assassin outfit made up of Jewish and Italian American gangsters. However, Anastasia was soon assassinated himself and was replaced by the group’s namesake Carlo Gambino, followed by its most notorious leader, John Gotti, the so-called “Dapper Don.”

By 2018, Gotti was long gone and replaced with a slew of other leaders.