Great Neck resident Matthew Bonanno, a plastic surgeon, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in Westchester County Court to 53 counts of criminal possession of weapons.
The charges include 11 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, 38 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, and four counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.
Bonanno’s lawyer, Paul Gentile, told Westchester County Judge George E. Fufidio Jr. during an arraignment that a police search of Bonanno’s car was a violation of his client’s constitutional rights.
Gentile said the case involved “a police officer without probable cause, without a warrant, without anything, breaking into a person’s car and seizing all the guns,” according to courtroom footage from News 12 Westchester.
Bonanno’s arrest on the night of Aug. 12 led local Tuckahoe village police to find five assault rifles, three handguns, over 1,600 rounds of ammunition, handcuffs, a stun gun, military-style knives, binoculars and other paraphernalia.
According to the Westchester County district attorney’s office, the Tuckahoe Police Department obtained search warrants for the defendant’s residences in Mount Pleasant and Great Neck, where additional weaponry was found.
“The residence in Long Island yielded another large cache of assault rifles, shotgun, handguns, high capacity magazines, body armor, hundreds of rounds ammunition, smoke grenades and other weapons,” the Westchester district attorney’s office said earlier in a news release. “Those weapons were turned over to the Nassau County Police Department.“
Gentile has insisted that his client is of “no danger, nor has ever been.” He described Bonanno as an avid gun collector and outdoorsman.
Police arrested the plastic surgeon in response to a tip from someone who had overheard threats he allegedly made against his estranged wife, Marianna Soropolous.
Gentile said Soropolous, a Tuckahoe resident, had reached out to his office specifically to say that there was “no basis to the claim” of an alleged plan to kill her.
On Tuesday, Soropolous was present in court, requesting that an order of protection she was given by the Tuckahoe Justice Court be lifted. Soropolous said that she did not ask for the order.
“She wants her ex-husband out where he can provide for his family … She told the police this fact and they ignored it,” Gentile said in court.
Bonanno’s bail was set at $100,000 cash or a $500,000 bond on Aug. 21, and those terms will remain, Judge Fufidio said in response to Gentile’s efforts to reduce the bail.
“I do not believe that if he gets a fair hearing, those guns can survive a motion to suppress,” Gentile said. “I don’t see Matthew Bonnano getting a fair trial here.”
Bonanno could face more than 30 years in prison if convicted, according to Newsday.