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In re Bonilla

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

August 30, 2017

In the Matter of Mark A. Bonilla, a suspended attorney. Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District, petitioner; Mark A. Bonilla, respondent. Attorney Registration No. 2650067

         D53051 O/afa

          Catherine A. Sheridan, Hauppauge, NY (Stacey J. Sharpelletti of counsel), for petitioner.

          Mark A. Bonilla, Bellmore, NY, respondent pro se.

          RANDALL T. ENG, P.J. WILLIAM F. MASTRO REINALDO E. RIVERA MARK C. DILLON JOHN M. LEVENTHAL, JJ.

          OPINION & ORDER

          PER CURIAM.

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING instituted by the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District. By decision and order on motion of this Court dated August 12, 2016, the respondent was immediately suspended pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(4)(f) based on his conviction of a serious crime, the Grievance Committee was authorized to institute and prosecute a disciplinary proceeding against the respondent, and the issues raised were referred to the Honorable Patrick A. Sweeney, as Special Referee, to hear and report. The respondent was admitted to the Bar at a term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department on March 1, 1995.

         The Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District served the respondent with a verified petition dated August 31, 2016, containing two charges of professional misconduct. After a preliminary conference on January 12, 2017, and a hearing conducted on January 31, 2017, the Special Referee sustained both charges. The Grievance Committee moves to confirm the Special Referee's report and to impose such discipline upon the respondent as the Court deems just and appropriate. The respondent has submitted a response in support of the Grievance Committee's motion to confirm, and contends that the appropriate sanction for his misconduct is a sanction no greater than a six-month suspension, effective the date of this Court's order of immediate suspension.

         Charge one alleges that the respondent engaged in illegal conduct that adversely reflects on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in that he was convicted of a crime within the meaning of section 90(2) of the Judiciary Law, in violation of rule 8.4(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200), as follows:

         On or about October 26, 2012, an Information was filed in District Court of Nassau County, First District, Criminal Part, charging the respondent with two counts of official misconduct, in violation of Penal Law § 195.00(1); coercion in the second degree, in violation of Penal Law §§ 110.00 and 135.60(8); and attempted petit larceny, in violation of Penal Law §§ 110.00 and 155.25. On July 25, 2013, the respondent was found guilty, after a nonjury trial, before the Honorable Sharon M. J. Gianelli, in District Court, Nassau County, of official misconduct. On October 7, 2013, he was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge, fined $1, 000, and directed to pay a $225 surcharge, and a crime victims assessment fee of $25. On October 16, 2013, the respondent appealed from the judgment of conviction. On September 18, 2015, the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court, Second Judicial Department, affirmed.

         Charge two alleges that the respondent engaged in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer in that the respondent was convicted of a crime within the meaning of section 90(2) of the Judiciary Law, in violation of rule 8.4(h) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200), based on the factual allegations specified in charge one.

         The parties entered into a Stipulation of Facts agreeing to the following:

"1. On or about July 25, 2013, after a trial before the Hon. Sharon M.J. Gianelli, a Judge of the District Court of Nassau County, the respondent was found guilty of one (1) count of the crime of Official Misconduct, a Class A Misdemeanor, under Penal Law § 195.00[1].
"2. The respondent's conviction of the crime of official misconduct related to his efforts, while serving as Hempstead Town Clerk, to gain incriminating evidence against a female employee who had accused him of sexual harassment. Specifically, upon learning that a male employee possessed compromising photographs of the female employee, the respondent tried to obtain the photographs by threatening to have the male employee transferred from his position in the respondent's office if he did not provide the photographs. Shortly after making this threat, and without having received the photographs, the respondent retracted his 'request' for the photographs and apologized to the male employee.
"3. Upon his conviction, the respondent was removed from office, after having served as Hempstead Town Clerk ...

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