Attorney: Bonilla has no plans to resign
Hempstead Town Clerk Mark Bonilla said Monday he plans to remain on the job despite facing criminal misconduct charges while town officials searched for ways to remove him from office.
Bonilla's attorney, Adrian DiLuzio of Mineola, said at a news conference that Bonilla "has no intention of resigning" his $129,500-a-year job.
DiLuzio, speaking outside Bonilla's Bellmore home, said it was "inappropriate" for town Supervisor Kate Murray and five of the other six town board members to call for Bonilla to resign before the charges are resolved.
"Suddenly you turn around and you're persona non grata," DiLuzio said.
Hempstead spokesman Mike Deery said Monday that town officials are "researching the options under the law" to "essentially remove the clerk."
Bonilla, who is still being paid, did not return to work Monday and said he was not sure when he would be back.
He pleaded not guilty Saturday to three misdemeanor charges related to allegations he tried to obtain "intimate and personal photographs" of a female subordinate who had accused him of sexual harassment, according to a criminal complaint.
Bonilla, 50, disputed a report he briefly visited Town Hall on Sunday. He said he was in church, at St. Barnabas in Bellmore. "I went to church because I have faith in God. I have faith in the criminal justice system that the right thing is going to be done," Bonilla said, adding, "I'm not going to be crucified without being given an opportunity" to defend himself.
A guard at one entrance to Town Hall told Newsday on Sunday that Bonilla had entered the building there.
Deery said a review of security tapes from cameras at several Town Hall entrances, including the one manned by the guard who spoke to Newsday, do not show Bonilla entering the building Sunday.
Attempts to reach the guard Monday were not successful. Town officials said they also were trying to reach the guard.
Bonilla's arrest came after a district attorney's office investigation, which followed up on an initial investigation by town officials. Law enforcement sources said Bonilla attempted to get the intimate photos of the woman to discredit or silence her accusations.
Bonilla is charged with official misconduct, second-degree attempted coercion and petty larceny. The coercion charge stems from alleged threats he made in August to transfer employee Alex Desidoro, 21, if he did not hand over the photos. The criminal complaint did not detail the larceny charge.
Three women in their 20s have made allegations "of a sexual nature" against Bonilla, describing a "hostile work environment," according to a law enforcement source.
Bonilla, who declined to address the charges directly, is due in District Court in Hempstead on Oct. 26.
Town officials have changed the lock on Bonilla's office door, a move DiLuzio called "juvenile." The lock was changed "to secure his possessions," Deery said. "We weren't sure who else had access to the office." Deery said a key will be made available to Bonilla when he returns.
With Ann Givens
and Aisha Al-Muslim