The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

January 16, 2013

Son admits using police dad's gun in robbery


CNHI News Service

LAWRENCE, Mass. — The son of the deputy police chief in this crime-ridden Massachusetts city pleaded guilty Tuesday to using his father's service revolver in an armed robbery more than two years ago. Two co-defendants stood by their not guilty pleadings.

Jamel Bonilla, 19, who had no prior crimiinal record, received the mandatory minimum sentence of 1 1/2 years in jail on charges of illegal possession of a firearm and two counts of armed robbery. His father was not in the courtroom.

The armed robbery charges could have resulted in life in prison, but prosecutors did not push for a tougher sentence, apparently because of the circumstances of the case. They said the victims were drug buyers who agreed to pay $3,000 for 200 Percocet pills but the deal fell apart and the robbery resulted. Prosecutors said one of the co-defendants used the gun to beat one of the victims.

Bonilla, son of Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla, told the court he was "pleased the matter is over." He took responsibility for his actiions and "looked forward to becoming a productive member of society" when he completes his jail time.

His deputy chief father has his own legal problems in Lawrence, one of the highest crime rate cities in Massachusetts. He was indicted Sept. 11 on bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges in connection with a criminal investigation into the city administration. He was stripped of his gun, badge, cell phone and cruiser but continues to receive his $140,000 annual salary.

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Details for this story were provided by The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.