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Former Lee Police Chief Buffis Admits He Lied To Investigators

Jim Levulis

The former police chief of Lee, Massachusetts, took the witness stand Tuesday and Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield, facing federal extortion, fraud and money laundering charges. Each of the 11 counts he faces carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Closing arguments may start Thursday.Joseph Buffis is accused of stealing more than $120,000 from the Edward J. Laliberte Toy Fund, which he controlled, over the course of 12 years. Buffis is also accused of coercing a Lee couple to donate $4,000 to the fund in exchange for dropping prostitution charges against them. Court reporter Bob Dunn of The Berkshire Eagle says under cross examination Buffis admitted he lied to state investigators in 2012 about how he used the fund’s money.

“And was put in a position where he was on the stand and had to admit that much of that information that he gave to investigators simply wasn’t true,” said Dunn.

Buffis says he would buy toys with his own money and then reimburse himself through the fund. Buffis’ attorney Lori Levinson says the former police chief is simply an incompetent bookkeeper. Cross examination of Buffis is expected to continue Thursday.

Follow Bob Dunn's live reporting from the courtroom by clicking here.

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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