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DA files new misconduct charge against Mark Bonilla

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

Hempstead Town Clerk Mark Bonilla faced an added misdemeanor charge Thursday, after prosecutors said they learned new details about his attempts to get compromising photos of a woman who works for him.

A spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said the new charge, misdemeanor official misconduct, involves Bonilla's attempts to pressure a male subordinate, Alex Desidoro, to copy compromising photos of a woman Desidoro was dating onto a CD and give them to Bonilla's assistant. The woman in the photos was one of three of Bonilla's employees who have complained that Bonilla created a hostile work environment for them. Bonilla said he wanted the photos to deter her from pursuing her complaint, prosecutors have said.

Previously, prosecutors were uncertain of the details regarding the CD, which they said constitutes an added illegal act.

Bonilla, 50, of Bellmore, is now charged with two counts of official misconduct, coercion and attempted petty larceny. He pleaded not guilty to the original charges, and will enter a plea to the revised charges at his next court date on Oct. 26.

Technically, the new misdemeanor charge adds to the amount of possible jail time Bonilla faces in the case, since such Class A misdemeanors carry up to a year in jail. But it would be highly unusual for a judge to sentence him to serve consecutive jail time on misdemeanor charges.

Bonilla's attorney, Adrian DiLuzio of Mineola, said he had not yet seen the paperwork for the new official-misconduct charge, but disputed all of the allegations.

"It's a different theory for the same offense," DiLuzio said. "None of it is true."

DiLuzio said he's advising Bonilla not to resign or make a plea deal, but instead take the case to trial.

"At this point, there has been no decision to resign," DiLuzio said. "If he does resign, it would not be out of these charges. It would be due to the disgust of what has been done to him and his family."

According to the updated complaint and prosecutors, in late August, Bonilla asked Desidoro to give him intimate photos of a young woman Bonilla knew Desidoro had been dating.

When Desidoro said he didn't feel comfortable giving Bonilla the photos, Bonilla asked Desidoro to put the photos on a CD and deliver them to Bonilla's special assistant, according to the complaint.

When Desidoro did not comply, Bonilla called Desidoro into his office Sept. 12 and "stated that, if his requests were not complied with, he would question Mr. Desidoro's loyalty to him and would transfer Mr. Desidoro out of the town clerk's office," the complaint says. On the other hand, Bonilla said if Desidoro did deliver the photos, Bonilla would increase his part-time hours to full-time hours, the complaint and prosecutors said.

Hempstead Town spokesman Mike Deery declined to comment on the criminal case. Deery said Bonilla, who has been asked to resign, was in his office at Town Hall Thursday, but left about 11:15 a.m. It was not clear whether he returned later.

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