Former Lee Police Chief pleads not guilty to extortion, money laundering

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The Lee
Police Chief whose employment was recently terminated during a meeting of
the Town of Lee Select Board was in federal court Thursday to enter a not guilty plea on
charges of extortion and money laundering.

Joseph Buffis, 55, appeared in Springfield Federal Court standing silently while the judge read the
charges against him.

The former chief is charged with extorting a $4,000 donation to the Edward
J. Laliberte Toy Fund, a holiday toy fund that Buffis controlled, from two
people who were facing prostitution related charges. He was then accused of
withdrawing almost all the money from a fund the money was donated to and
putting it in a personal account.

Buffis was suspended without pay or benefits by the Town Administrator
shortly after the indictment, and later terminated by the Town of Lee Select
Board for an unrelated matter.  

During
the court appearance he asked the judge to appoint council claiming since he
had been terminated from his position he could not continue to afford his
current council, Lori Levinson. Levinson, however, is on the public defender
list and asked the judge to appoint her. The judge did not make a decision on
this because sufficient evidence of his financials was not provided.

Council
will go over all of the evidence and information and be back in court on
December 4th.  

In the meantime, former Chief Ronald Glidden has been appointed to serve
temporarily as the Town of Lee Police Chief.

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