The 51-year-old Bellmore resident was sentenced Oct. 7 to serve 300 hours of community service and pay $1,250 in fines and surcharges, in addition to a one-year conditional discharge.
Bonilla was convicted of a sole count of official misconduct – a misdemeanor – on July 25 after a bench trial before Judge Sharon Gianelli at First District Court in Hempstead. The judge found that he committed a criminal act when Bonilla allegedly threatened to transfer an employee, Alex Desidoro, if the subordinate did not provide him with compromising photos of a fellow employee who had accused Bonilla of sexual harassment. Governor Andrew Cuomo declared his office vacated after the convicted and Bonilla was removed from his elected post.
During the sentencing, Gianelli ordered Bonilla to assist underprivileged Nassau residents – specifically Latinos – in procuring health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Bonilla will need to work 300 hours in a federally qualified health center. The judge ordered him to use his “education and expertise” as an attorney to work in the volunteer capacity.
“He has been publicly shamed and ousted from office,” Gianelli said before reading the sentence. “[His] ability to earn another job is in jeopardy.” The father of four sat quietly in the courtroom as the judge said the sentence should be “fair and reflect justice.”
In addition to the community service hours, Bonilla received a one-year conditional discharge. After that period, the court may seal the case and his record will show no criminal convictions.
Assistant District Attorney Jed Painter asked the court to sentence Bonilla to one year in jail and argued that Bonilla violated the trust of his constituents, calling Bonilla’s actions “a very real consequence to the community at large.”
“It takes more votes to be elected the Clerk of the Town of Hempstead than to be the Governor of Alaska,” Painter said. He also said Bonilla left his employees soured with their first experiences in public service. “It is disturbing that Mr. Bonilla, as a public official, gave this impression as a boss.”
“We’re not talking about someone who’s a threat to the community,” said Adrian DiLuzio, Bonilla’s attorney. He said he believed the sentence was fair, but added that he would advise his client to file an appeal. The ex-clerk refused to answer questions as officers led him from the courtroom. He later ducked out of a side door of the courthouse after completing paperwork with court officials.
Bonilla, a 10-year incumbent, had been found not guilty of three other charges – official misconduct, coercion and attempted petit larceny – after the trial in July.