An ex-employee of Hempstead Town Clerk Mark Bonilla testified Monday that Bonilla told him he would be seen as disloyal if the employee didn’t hand over compromising photos of the employee’s ex-girlfriend.
Alex Desidoro was one of two former employees who took the stand in the sixth day of the trial against Bonilla, who’s fighting misconduct and coercion charges for allegedly trying to use the photos to get the woman, fellow ex-clerk employee Ariel Davis, to drop sexual harassment allegations.
“He could see I was uncomfortable,” Desidoro testified of his reaction when Bonilla allegedly asked him for the images. Asked what would happen if he refused, Desidoro said: “He would question my loyalty.”
Desidoro told the court that when the town’s investigator later questioned him on the allegations, Bonilla told him to “remain loyal and to make him look good.”
According to Desidoro, the investigator told him: “Just more stuff on Mark, he’s done anyway.” Asked to elaborate, he added that he was told: “We’ve gotten a lot of statements from people on what Mark’s done.”
Derek Foder, another former employee of Bonilla’s, also testified Monday. He said that he was offered his “dream position” in town hall in exchange for cooperating—a move he said felt was a bribe—but could not recall who made that offer.
He wanted to stay in Bonilla’s office, but was eventually assigned back to the passport office, the department where he first started.
Bonilla’s defense attorney, Adrian DiLuzio, asked Foder to describe Davis’ attitude in the office, and Foder testified that Davis was “stern” and very serious. He also cited a Facebook post she made referring to her promotion that Foder said sounded like she was “bragging.”
Foder also testified that attendance was an issue for Davis and that she would show up to work late and sometimes not at all. This caused her to have a contentious relationship with Bonilla’s secretary, who was in charge the office schedule.
He also told the court that she was so close with Desidoro and another fellow employee, Alyssa Smith, that the rest of the staff referred to them as “tri-pod,” but Davis became jealous of Smith and Desidoro’s relationship, which lead to her being unpredictable.
“You never knew what Ariel was showing up,” he said.