A Great Neck plastic surgeon pleaded guilty to a felony Wednesday after police in two counties said they seized a slew of weapons from him in 2019 after he allegedly made a threat against his estranged wife.
Acting state Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy said he planned to sentence Matthew Bonanno to 5 years of probation under terms of the Nassau County Court plea agreement.
Bonanno, 49, pleaded guilty to criminally possessing a 9 mm pistol. Nassau prosecutors agreed to drop the rest of a 13-count local indictment against him that alleged he illegally possessed five assault weapons and two pistols that authorities seized from his former North Shore apartment.
Bonanno's attorney, Paul Gentile, told the judge Wednesday his client bought that gun legally, kept it in a case and never fired it. But he acknowledged Bonanno failed to register the weapon when he brought it to New York.
Gentile, who called his client "a gun collector," also criticized the way he said Westchester authorities obtained the search warrant used to seize the weapons. But Nassau prosecutor Michelle Kantor said in court that Murphy previously ruled against a defense challenge of the warrant.
Court records show Bonanno also pleaded guilty last month in Westchester to a felony charge of attempted criminal possession of a weapon after a separate 53-count indictment. A Westchester district attorney's office spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that Bonanno's plea deal there will include a sentence of five years of probation and jail time he already has served.
Bonanno, who declined to comment after his court appearance, also will lose his medical license because of the felony convictions, officials said Wednesday.
Tuckahoe police seized a cache of weapons from Bonanno’s BMW on Aug. 12, 2019. It happened after a friend allegedly heard Bonanno make a threat about killing his estranged wife and her family and saw him display a weapon, Westchester authorities said previously.
Weapons in the BMW, which was parked in the woman's driveway, included five assault rifles, three handguns, 29 high-capacity loaded magazines, more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition, a stun gun, body armor, handcuffs, masks, knives, scopes and binoculars, according to police.
The probe quickly stretched to the waterfront apartment Bonanno had rented on East Shore Road in Great Neck. Police reported seizing more weapons there, including assault rifles, handguns, high capacity magazines, body armor, ammunition and smoke grenades.
The discoveries launched a multiagency investigation, as authorities said they would try to determine where Bonanno got the weapons and what he planned to do with them.
But Gentile insisted all along that his client isn't an extremist. The Manhattan lawyer and former Bronx district attorney described Bonanno as an "outstanding plastic surgeon" who performed surgeries on disfigured veterans and as an outdoorsman who hunts and "loves guns."
A Westchester judge lifted a protective order that kept Bonanno from contact with his estranged wife after she said in September 2019 she didn’t feel at risk. The couple’s daughter was seven at the time and Bonanno had spent some of the hours before his arrest at a barbecue with her, her mother and other family, according to Gentile.
Authorities never charged Bonanno with making a threat, and Gentile said the allegation that his client threatened to kill was a "false claim" by an intoxicated man.
The man stepped out of a Tuckahoe pub and called 911 after allegedly hearing Bonanno make the threat, leading to the weapon seizures and the doctor’s arrest, Westchester authorities said previously.
The Nassau district attorney's office declined to comment Wednesday. Gentile said after court that Bonanno, who is unemployed, may pursue a career in the restaurant business.
"He now can move on with his life," the defense lawyer added.