LEE, Mass. – The Town of Lee's Police Chief has been
suspended without pay or benefits by the Town Administrator in response to charges he allegedly stole from a holiday toy fund.
The indictment charges Police Chief Joseph F. Buffis with
extortion by wrongful use of fear and under color of official right, and three
counts of money laundering.
Prosecutors say 55-year-old Joseph
Buffis of Pittsfield was acting as Lee Police Chief when he allegedly extorted
a $4,000 “donation” from two individuals who were facing
prostitution-related charges. The “donation” was made to the Edward
J. Laliberte Toy Fund, a holiday toy fund that Buffis controlled. Buffis
deposited the $4,000 check into the Toy Fund's bank account, and quickly
withdrew $3,990 which he then deposited into a joint bank account that he
shared with his wife to pay for personal expenses.
He then is alleged to have lied to
law enforcement about the disposition of the funds.
Members of the Town of Lee Select Board will hold a public
hearing on August 20th to determine if he will be suspended with or
without pay until the criminal proceedings brought against him are settled.
In the meantime, former Chief Ronald Glidden has been
appointed to serve temporarily as the Town of Lee Police Chief.