An elderly man with a history of loan sharking and suspected ties to an organized crime family in New York City was found dead with a handgun next to him in his Brooklyn home on Friday afternoon in what appeared to be a possible suicide at first glance.
However, the death of 77-year-old Vincent Zito was most likely a mob-style execution as the old loan shark was shot twice in the back of the head.
The New York Post reported that Zito’s body was discovered by his grandson, who lives at the same house in Brooklyn, after the boy had returned home from school.
Zito had been arrested in the past on charges of loan sharking. His older brother, 82-year-old Anthony Zito, was sentenced to prison in 1971 on extortion charges. Both brothers have been tied to the Luchese crime family.
According to the police, there were no signs of forced entry at the home, meaning the killer was quite possibly someone Zito was familiar with.
Zito was found lying face up on the living room floor with a handgun next to him when the man’s grandson returned home from school Friday afternoon.
It is noteworthy that the home had stickers suggesting an ADT alarm system installed, and had security cameras watching both the front and back doors of the home.
Loan shark with ties to crime family
While some in the neighborhood spoke fondly of the elderly man, others described him as a “snake” or worse, with one neighbor recalling how Zito had sold him a can of gasoline for $100 during the initial clean-up in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy in 2012.
But there was at least one man who would miss Zito dearly, a 43-year-old immigrant from Jamaica, Howard Stewart, who worked as a handyman for Zito — who he affectionately referred to as “Pop” — said Zito “would give you everything. He would give you the shirt off his back. I don’t know why someone would want to hurt him.”
Stewart firmly believed that Zito was the victim of a mob-style execution.
“Two shots to the head? Man, it’s a setup,” he said. “There was no break-in. It’s someone he knew.”
It is unclear at this time if the police have any leads or suspects in the suspected murder, or if the potential killer was caught on the security cameras keeping watch over the doors of the Brooklyn home.
Whether this man was truly a loan shark with ties to organized crime or not, he nevertheless was a victim of murder and will be missed by his family and the friends who knew him well.