Former Lee police chief sentenced on extortion charge

LEE, Mass. (NEWS10) – A former police chief of a local town was sentenced on Tuesday on a federal extortion conviction.

Joseph Buffis was found guilty in 2015 of extorting $4,000 from a couple. In return, he dropped their prostitution charges. He was acquitted of several other charges, including wire fraud and money laundering.

Buffis was cheerful as he entered the federal courthouse.

“Good morning and God Bless America,” he said to media as he made his way inside.

As the former Lee police chief, Buffis spent years protecting the community. But now he’ll spend two years and three months in prison. He was also sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

The defense argued in court for a much lesser sentence.

“We really do believe a sentence of probation would have been appropriate,” attorney Lori Levinson said.

The defense said the public humiliation Buffis and his family have suffered is enough of a punishment.

“We were very disappointed in the sentence, but I do respect [the judge],” Levinson said. “I know he didn’t make the decision lightly.”

Buffis briefly spoke in court. He choked up as he apologized to the people of Lee.

The prosecution argued that as the highest ranking member of the Lee Police Department, Buffis should have known better than to abuse his power.

The judge made note in court that the sentence he imposed was actually longer than what he originally intended because the judge said Buffis refused to take responsibility for his actions.

Buffis left court with the same cheerful attitude as when he entered.

“Thank you,” he said. “Have a great afternoon. God bless America and vote for Donald Trump.”

Buffis is set to self-surrender within four weeks. In addition to incarceration, the defense said Buffis could stand to lose his pension.

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