Mark Bonilla of Bellmore, the former Town of Hempstead clerk, was sentenced to community service and a fine on Monday.
Bonilla was found guilty of one count of official misconduct stemming from sexual harassment allegations, which were investigated by town officials last year, on July 25. Justice Sharon Gianelli decided the case alone because Bonilla waived his right to a jury trial. He faced up to one year in jail prior to sentencing.
In First District Court on Oct. 7, Gianelli announced that Bonilla would be conditionally discharged for one year while completing 300 hours of community service. The judge ordered a specific assignment that she said relates to his legal expertise and ties into the town’s Latino community.
Bonilla, a lawyer, will spend 300 hours helping Latinos and other uninsured residents obtain medical coverage through the federal Affordable Care Act, which took effect last week. Gianelli said that, by serving this sentence, Bonilla would be able to do what an unnamed pastor who wrote a letter to the court in support of Bonilla suggested: help “the last, the least and the lost.”
“It should be a sentence that allows him to atone to his family and the community, whose trust is fractured,” she said before reading the sentence, which she described as useful, just and fair.
Gianelli noted that the pastor was one of more than 300 people who sent letters urging her to issue a sentence that did not include jail time for the former clerk. Adrian DiLuzio, Bonilla’s attorney, said he was unaware that people had sent such letters.
Bonilla will report to the court about his work monthly. He was also fined $1,250, Gianelli said.
DiLuzio said outside of the courtroom that he thought Gianelli’s sentence was fair. During the hearing, he said that Assistant District Attorney Jed Painter’s recommendation that Bonilla serve the maximum jail sentence bordered on absurd because Bonilla was not a threat to the community.
“This is not someone who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and came into power feeling entitled,” he said. “For Mr. Bonilla, this was the accomplishment of his life. There are plenty of public servants who have not gone to jail who have done a lot worse.”