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Former Lee Police Chief Pleads Not Guilty To Second Round Of Federal Charges

Jim Levulis

The former police chief of Lee, Massachusetts pleaded not guilty to federal charges Wednesday alleging he took taking more than $50,000 intended for Christmas gifts for underprivileged children.The Republican of Springfield reports Joseph Buffis pleaded not guilty to twelve indictments charging wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. The indictments issued last week follow four charges issued last year for extortion by wrongful use of fear in connection with a prostitution investigation involving two Lee innkeepers.

Buffis had already pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Prosecutors say that from January 2007 through December 2011, Buffis diverted more than $51,000 from the Edward J. Laliberte Toy Fund for personal use.

Authorities say that during that period, only one needy family received money, a $250 check. Buffis has said more than 100 needy children received gifts annually.   

A pretrial conference is scheduled for Sept. 30.

Lee's Board of Selectmen fired Buffis in August 2013 following the first round of indictments, over other issues with town. 

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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