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Former Mark Bonilla aide: He wanted intimate photos of worker

Town of Hempstead Clerk Mark Bonilla in Hempstead

Town of Hempstead Clerk Mark Bonilla in Hempstead District Court for his official misconduct trial in Hempstead. (July 11, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

A former subordinate testified Tuesday in Hempstead Town Clerk Mark Bonilla's official misconduct trial that the clerk created an uncomfortable work environment and attempted to obtain intimate photographs of one his employees.

Elissa Smith of Seaford, a former Bonilla aide who now works in the town parks department, was among the final witnesses in the trial. Bonilla faces official misconduct, coercion and attempted petty larceny charges stemming from accusations he attempted to obtain compromising photographs of a worker who filed a sexual harassment complaint against him.

Smith testified Tuesday that Alex Desidoro, a friend and another former Bonilla aide, contacted her after Bonilla attempted to obtain the pictures from him. Desidoro had been in an on-and-off relationship with the woman who filed the complaint.

"He called me, freaking out that 'Mark Bonilla had called me asking for naked pictures of [the complainant]' and that if he didn't he would transfer him out of the office," Smith said.

The woman who filed the complaint has been named in court, but Newsday has withheld her name because of the sexual nature of the allegations.

After the final witnesses -- investigators from the Nassau district attorney's office -- testified Tuesday, defense attorney Adrian DiLuzio asked District Court Justice Sharon Gianelli to dismiss the case. His request was denied.

"There's not a scintilla of evidence in this particular case that proves Mr. Bonilla knew what he was doing was unauthorized," said DiLuzio, who has argued that the case is part of a plan by the complainant to gather support for a lawsuit against Bonilla.

Gianelli, who will issue the verdict since Bonilla waived his right to a jury, said prosecutor Jed Painter's case is "sufficient to put before the fact-finder to make the decision."

Bonilla faces up to a year in jail if convicted.

Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. in First District Court in Hempstead.

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