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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Honest Cop Railroaded by Corrupt Politicians

Bonura 'forced' to retire
The Journal News by Shawn Cohen - February 5, 2009

PLEASANTVILLE, NEW YORK - Village Detective Sgt. Stephen Bonura has filed for retirement, potentially short-circuiting a disciplinary hearing in which the village's prosecutor is seeking to have him fired. Bonura's wife and his lawyer said the detective, a 27-year veteran of the department, decided to retire because the village suspended his pay in October and he had no doubt he would be fired as a result of the disciplinary hearing now under way. His retirement papers, filed Jan. 21, take effect Feb. 20. "We feel he's being forced to leave," Lisa Bonura said yesterday. "He's disgusted. This is not how he wanted to leave. "We had no other options, financially, to get some money coming into the household," she said, noting that they have five children to support. "It's been extremely difficult since he hasn't been paid for over three months."

Bonura, who served as head of detectives and as department spokesman, was suspended by the Pleasantville police chief in May after he told The Journal News about the arrest of career criminal Kahlil Gonzalez on a burglary charge. He said he was frustrated with how Gonzalez kept getting out of trouble by cutting deals with prosecutors. The comments prompted an Internal Affairs probe that resulted in 60 departmental charges related to his statements and alleged mistreatment of Gonzalez and his girlfriend. The village contends Bonura put Gonzalez's life in danger by exposing him as an informant. Bonura's offer to forfeit 101 days of pay was rejected. The disciplinary hearing, which began in December, is expected to resume Monday in Village Hall. The Pleasantville Board of Trustees, which serves as the board of police commissioners, has yet to cancel the proceedings. "You're not retired until you're retired," said Mayor Bernard Gordon, who serves on the board. "There's still a hearing going on, still a hearing scheduled."

Bonura's lawyer, Jonathan Lovett, announced the planned retirement yesterday during a hearing in federal court in White Plains, where Bonura has filed a $5 million lawsuit accusing the village of violating his free-speech rights. "He can't get another job while he's a cop," Lovett said. "They refuse to pay him anything. They're destroying him financially." The retirement makes him eligible for his police pension and frees him to find another job. Lovett called this a "forced" retirement by the village. "That's what they wanted, and that's what they got," Lovett said. "They got rid of Bonura. These fools, I hope Kahlil Gonzalez hits their house next. I really do. Let them wish they had a good detective on the job." The village's attorney, Terry O'Neil, is seeking to have Bonura held in contempt of court for refusing to testify at the disciplinary hearing. A judge is expected to rule tomorrow whether he must testify.

O'Neil, responding to Bonura's lawyer, said, "Lovett's statements really sound like the rantings of a desperate person who's about to lose three cases he's involved in: the disciplinary hearing, the contempt proceeding and the federal lawsuit." Pleasantville police Sgt. Erik Grutzner, president of his department's union, said he had been confident Bonura would be exonerated. "It's devastating," Grutzner said. "I think all of us were looking forward to the possibility of Steve coming back to work. He has been the heart and soul of our department since I got here in 1994. He has always trained the new guys how to do things the right way. Whenever he did leave, it was going to leave a void in our department. If this is the way it's allowed to end, it's a terrible day for the department, the union and the people who live in Pleasantville."


Unknown said...

Regarding the Shawn Cohen Article on Detective Sergeant Bonura’s Hearings in Pleasantville
Concerned Among Us:

Those of us that are truly familiar with high pressure policing know that the action of Mr. Bonura and his supporters pose the risk of setting a dangerous precedent and must not be condoned. Although, it is not to be expected for the general viewing public to fully understand, I will briefly describe what this occurrence means to us. Aside from the collateral issues here, and any local political chaos, it is a necessity to note that there are countless agents within our neighborhoods who risk their lives daily as undercover agents. I can speak with confidence that the worst fear of these law enforcement personnel is to have their identity exposed and to be the last to know, although the target suspect is aware. It is a fear that is the last thought as one goes to bed and the first upon rise for these dedicated persons whom many can only take their service for granted yet enjoy a safe walk home from work as the most violent criminal are put behind bars. Their fear is real.
However, as important to the case at hand, the exposure of the identity of a confidential informant is THE factor which leads to this situation. Every Detective receives this training as basic as 101. There appears to have been an unforgivable breach of duty here and I am hard pressed to understand that individuals think there should be a lowering of standards simply because of ANY other issue, real or imagined. The exposure of a confidential informant without prior notice or warning to the parties involved is a slap in the face to law enforcement personnel everywhere when it comes from within our own ranks. It is not D/S Bonura nor defendant Gonzalez who are the true victims here but the countless service men and women whom will have to serve with a new burden, that a standard designed to save their life....has lost it's remedy.
I truly hope Mr. Bonura can take the time to publicly apologize and once again reign in the respect of his fellow officers and that he realizes that his action, regardless of the personal consequences, have a deeper meaning, and cannot be tolerated nor ignored. The stakes are too high and we cannot afford to have a degradation of this professional standard. It is there for a reason. Lives are at stake.
2/5/2009 4:41:05 PM
Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Outing Kahlil is a bad idea for the reasons you mentioned but _please_ don't confuse a cowardly criminal like him with an actual undercover agent who lives up to real professional standards. Kahlil is a small time thug that has found a way to run wild by ratting on others.

30 "incidents" and he's still out? It sets a terrible precedent in itself to let something like this go on for so long. I'm sure if he wasn't a little baby when pressured by the authorities and didn't give up others he'd definitely be a third time loser and in jail for life. How can we even trust the information from someone like this? Why were these other people protecting him?

I understand the Sergeant's frustration. The Sergeant did do something unwise. Kahlil has done terrible things. Who is the worse criminal here?

Unknown said...

No no, I wasn'nt comparing Khalil, who I think should be locked up for sure, to the undercover. What I was saying was that Khalil was working with members of law enforcement as an informant and it is those persons whom the potential to be placed at risk raised my concern.

Anonymous said...

This little dwarf is the Whitey Bulger of Pleasantville!!!! I know from personal experience. He is a nightmare & a predator with no redeeming qualities!!!!