A 77-year-old loan shark with ties to organized crime was found dead in his Brooklyn home with a gunshot wound to the back of the head in an apparent mob-style execution, police sources said Saturday.
The body of Vincent Zito was found inside his three-story Emmons Ave. home near Batchelder St. in Sheepshead Bay about 3:15 p.m. Friday. His school-age grandson, who lives at the address with Zito and Zito’s son, Joseph, made the grisly discovery after he came home from school.
A pistol was recovered from the scene.
Initially, it was believed Zito may have taken his own life, but with the entry wound at the back of the head, that appeared less likely, sources with knowledge of the case said. Cops are awaiting the results of an autopsy before declaring Zito’s death a homicide.
Howard Stewart, 43, a handy-man who’s been renovating Zito’s basement, said Zito’s son told him the elderly man was shot twice in the head. “One shot kill him on the spot. Understand? Two shot to the head? Man. It’s a setup,” Stewart said. “I worked in police in Jamaica all my life. It’s a setup.”
Stewart said Zito, whom he affectionately called “Pop,” was retired and “never works.”
“Vinny is my best, best friend,” Stewart said. “When my father died, I didn’t cry like that. He’s like my father. He give me a job. He give me money in my pocket. He give me food on the table, a roof over my head. Who else would do that?
“I’m the black son he never had… he’s my Pop,” Stewart said. “I need the cops to find this person as soon as possible. This person is not supposed to be on the street. I don’t worry for myself. I’m worried for what they did to Pop. That’s all wrong.”
Stewart said he hoped video cameras focused on the back door of the home could help reveal the shooter.
According to police sources, Zito was arrested for loan sharking in the past and has been linked to the Luchese crime family. His older brother, Anthony, 82, also has ties to the Lucheses and was jailed in 1971 for extortion. There was no immediate reaction from the elder Zito.
Some neighbors described Vincent Zito as a “schemer” who once sold a resident a gallon of gas for $100 after Superstorm Sandy hit Sheepshead Bay. “I think he was like (a snake),” said one neighbor who didn’t want to be identified. “He was … not good.”
Thanks to Catherine Gioino and Thomas Tracy.
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