Bonilla declares he won't step down

Town of Hempstead Clerk Mark Bonilla stands outside Town of Hempstead Clerk Mark Bonilla stands outside his office in Hempstead Town Hall. (Sept. 26, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Hempstead Town Clerk Mark Bonilla, who faces calls for his resignation in the wake of criminal charges and harassment allegations, announced Friday he will not step down.

Supervisor Kate Murray, a Republican like Bonilla, called on Sept. 21 for him to resign. That was the day Bonilla was charged with three misdemeanors 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 said Friday he has taken nearly three weeks to respond to Murray's call because he "struggled with why I should respond" to the supervisor's request, which he called unfair and presumptuous.

"I have the rights that every other citizen should have and one of those rights is due process, and neither Kate Murray nor the town board thinks I am entitled to it," Bonilla said, adding, "Could there be employees, from time to time, who are unhappy? Of course."

Murray stands by her call for Bonilla to step down, town spokesman Mike Deery said. Murray issued a statement last month that said she was "personally offended and disgusted by the alleged conduct" of Bonilla.

"She has made her position known and her position has not changed," Deery said.

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Bonilla said town officials have marginalized him since he was charged. They changed the lock on his office door, removed his name from town mailings and did not invite him to last week's Hispanic Heritage Month event, he said.

Murray acknowledged on Wednesday that Bonilla's name has been removed from mailings and that she did not invite him to the event.

Deery has said Bonilla's lock was changed "to secure his possessions" after he was charged.

Bonilla, 50, the town clerk for nine years, supervises about 125 employees and is paid $129,500 annually.

He is charged with two counts of official misconduct, coercion and attempted petty larceny.

Bonilla is scheduled to enter a new plea at his next court date on Oct. 26 in District Court in Hempstead, as charges were revised after his initial not guilty plea last month.

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