By Jon Cronin
An Astoria man has been given 25 years to life in prison after conning his Italian immigrant friend out of $85,000 and then murdering him in 2015, the Queens district attorney said.
Alexander Bonich, 52, who lived on 42nd Street in Astoria, was a long-time friend of William Klinger, the victim. Bonich and Klinger, 42, both grew up in Croatia and their shared experiences bonded them. Klinger, who was living in Italy, told Bonich that he was looking for work in New York City.
Bonich told Klinger that he could sell him an apartment in Astoria for $85,000 and find him a job as a historian in the city. However, everything that Bonich told his friend was fabricated, Queens DA Richard Brown said. There was no job and the photos of the apartment that Bonich showed were of his mother’s apartment.
On Jan. 31, 2015, the two men were walking in Astoria Park near 19th Street and 23rd Road. There was no evidence that the two were arguing or fighting when Bonich shot Klinger in the back of the head with an antique revolver. He then threw it into the East River.
The New York Times reported in 2015 that the murder made waves in Italy and Croatia, frightening tourists and potential immigrants to the United States. The Times also reported that Klinger had left behind a wife and two children with the promise of a job at Hunter College. The only slim connection that Bonich had to the college was having completed a double major there in Russian and political science in 1990.
Brown said that a jury found Bonich guilty last month of second-degree murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence. On June 18, he was sentenced by Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder to 25 years to life in prison.
“The shooter and the victim were friends, but that did not stop the defendant from first scamming the man out of tens of thousands of dollars and then viciously shooting him in the back,” the DA said. “This was a horrible crime committed in broad daylight in one of Queens’ most popular parks. A jury found the defendant guilty and the court has now sentenced him to spend the rest of his days locked behind bars as punishment for this senseless killing.”
Reach reporter Jon Cronin via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 125.