Judge: Hempstead clerk ‘guilty’ of misconduct

(Page 2 of 3)
The criminal case

The matter became criminal, Rice explained last fall, when Bonilla “abused his position in an effort to discredit his accuser.” She said that Joseph Ra, the town attorney, told investigators that when Bonilla was interviewed, he asked whether a $10,000 payment to a female employee would make her allegations of sexual harassment against him “go away.” Rice said it was unclear whether he was suggesting that the complainant be offered town funds or if Bonilla was willing to make the payment himself.

According to the criminal complaint, Bonilla later tried to obtain the photographs of the female employee from 21-year-old Alex Desidoro. The complaint alleged that Bonilla first tried to obtain the pictures in late August. Gianelli explained that Bonilla met with Desidoro and another aide, Derek Foder, again on Sept. 12. According the complaint, this is when Bonilla told Desidoro he would be transferred out of the town clerk’s office if he did not comply with the request, but would be promoted if he did.

Foder testified that he that he acted as a go-between for obtaining the photographs of the female employee. Gianelli said although Foder and Desidoro’s conflicting testimonies were not enough to convict Bonilla of the first official misconduct charge related to the August meeting, she explained that text messages that “set the stage” for the Sept. 12 meeting revealed that Bonilla repeatedly reminded Desidoro of the importance of loyalty. She said this “served as a subtle threat that permeated the interactions of Mr. Bonilla with his staff.”

“The screen shots of the text messages are the best representation of his intentions and his actions,” she said. “It is, in large part, Mr. Bonilla’s own words and actions that convict him of this charge.”

Assistant District Attorney Jed Painter, who prosecuted the case, showed the messages to the court during closing arguments on July 17. He did not offer comment outside of court on Thursday.

Bonilla maintained his right to remain silent and did not testify at the trial.

DiLuzio said he disagreed with Gianelli’s verdict, and he may file an appeal. He previously suggested that the case was based on character assassination.

Page 2 / 3