Bonilla sentenced to 300 hours of community service, fine
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Former Hempstead Town Clerk Mark Bonilla was sentenced Monday to 300 hours of community service for official misconduct, a punishment the judge said will allow him to "atone to his family and the community whose trust he has fractured."
First District Court Judge Sharon Gianelli found Bonilla guilty in July after he threatened an employee, Alex Desidoro, with a job transfer if he did not produce compromising photos of a female employee who had accused Bonilla of sexual harassment. Bonilla, 51, who was town clerk for about 10 years, was removed from office after his conviction.
Bonilla, who declined to talk to reporters after he left court, was also sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge -- during which time he must stay out of trouble and perform the community service -- and a $1,000 fine and $250 in court fees.
Gianelli, ruling from Hempstead, ordered Bonilla to help uninsured residents -- specifically Latinos -- access health insurance options through the federal Affordable Care Act, which went into effect last week. He will report to Nassau University Medical Center Tuesday to begin his service, a court spokesman said.
Gianelli cited Bonilla's legal expertise -- he is a lawyer by profession -- and his ties to Nassau County's Latino community as reasons the sentence was apt. She also said the former clerk has already suffered damage to his reputation as a result of the conviction.
"He has been publicly shamed, he has been removed from office, he has been rendered unemployed," Gianelli said.
The judge also granted an order of protection barring Bonilla from contacting three former employees, including Desidoro and the woman who accused him of harassment.
His attorney, Adrian DiLuzio of Mineola, said he believed the sentence was fair, but added that he would recommend Bonilla file an appeal.
"We're not talking about somebody who's a threat to the community," DiLuzio said.
After his conviction Bonilla, a Republican, was replaced by the town's Republican-controlled town board with Nasrin Ahmad, who had been an administrative supervisor in Bonilla's office.
Before Gianelli issued the sentence, prosecutor Jed Painter asked the judge to impose the maximum punishment -- a year in jail -- allowable for a Class A misdemeanor.
Painter said Bonilla's behavior had "a very real cost and consequences . . . to this institution and the public at large."
Gianelli found Bonilla not guilty of three other charges -- another count of official misconduct, coercion and attempted petty larceny.
Hempstead Town officials declined to comment on Bonilla's sentence, said Mike Deery, a spokesman for the town. Fellow Republican and Supervisor Kate Murray had called for Bonilla to step down after he was charged in September 2012.