Steven Bonfiglio, a former prospect with the Bridgerunners Motorcycle Club in Staten Island, New York, was sentenced to two years in prison and two years supervised probation earlier this week. His attorney, Louis E. Diamond, told the Staten Island Advance that the sentence was “far better than being dead.”
Bonfiglio was a prospect, and consequently at the beck and call of members of the motorcycle club, when he was summoned to a bar called the Boulevard Tavern around 3 a.m. on June 29, 2014 by club member Michael Raimo. Raimo told Bonfiglio to drive his ex-girlfriend, a woman named Kirsten Morgan, home. Morgan was also the mother of Raimo’s 16-year-old son.
Earlier in the evening, Morgan had been involved in a loud argument in the bar with her then boyfriend, Stephen McMahon. McMahon had left the bar before Raimo and other Bridgerunners arrived.
When Bonfiglio arrived at the woman’s home, he found McMahon waiting for them. McMahon stuck an automatic pistol in Bonfiglio’s face and pulled the trigger. Witnesses later interviewed by police established that McMahon was known to carry the pistol and bullets in a plastic bag.
McMahon’s pistol jammed when he tried to kill Bonfiglio and Bonfiglio then disarmed McMahon with a ball peen hammer. Bonfiglio would later explain to police that he carried the hammer because he used it to start his balky motorcycle.
In the hand to hand struggle that ensued, McMahon wrested the hammer from Bonfiglio and beat the prospect to the ground with it. From the ground, Bonfiglio grabbed the pistol, cleared it and mortally shot McMahon who died the next day. Bonfiglio fled and threw away the pistol. The entire incident was caught on surveillance video. When police caught up with Bonfioglio, he told police what had happened and where to find the pistol.
Former Congressman and current Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. “Mike” McMahon (above) decided to make an example of Bonfiglio because of his association with the Bridgerunners. McMahon convened a grand jury and had the jurors listen to the testimony of a never named “motorcycle gang expert.” The jury indicted Bonfiglio for second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, criminal weapon possession, criminal firearm possession and evidence tampering.
On March 15 of this year, a judge named Stephen J. Rooney dismissed the murder and manslaughter charges against Bonfiglio because he thought the gang expert’s testimony poisoned the case. “There is nothing, in terms of gang affiliation, to show intent, motive, or to rebut justification,” Rooney said. “The expert testimony was gratuitous and had no probative value.” Rooney let the weapon (ball peen hammer) possession, firearm possession and evidence tampering charges stand.
McMahon was undeterred. After the dismissal he issued a press release that stated, “We respect the court’s decision and will now move forward to re-present this case to a Richmond County Grand Jury for its determination.” He was as good as his word but the second grand jury declined to indict Bonfiglio for homicide.
In July of this year, 25 months after McMahon died, Bonfiglio and his lawyer finally caved under McMahon’s relentless pressure and they agreed to a plea deal on the weapons possession and evidence tampering charges. Bonfiglio pled guilty in return for a less than maximum sentence.
After Bonfiglio was formally sentenced Wednesday, Diamond admitted his client was “doing two years in jail because of taking the gun from the scene” but added the line that the sentence was “far better than being dead.”
McMahon wanted all of the greater New York Metropolitan Area to know that he had “vigorously pursued” the charges against Bonfiglio and that the sentence was “consistent with the case that could be proven.”
So presumably, now that the evidence tamperer is off the streets, New Yorkers can reflect on a system that lets politicians like Mike McMahon build their tough on crime resumes by locking up guys like Bonfiglio.