BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) – An acting police chief in Lee, who is accused of extorting money from two suspects and putting it towards his personal finances, was indicted on extortion and three counts of money laundering charges Thursday.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis extorted a $4,000 "donation" from two people who were facing prostitution-related charges.
The "donation" was made payable to the Edward J. Laliberte Toy Fund, a holiday toy fund that Buffis controlled. Buffis deposited the check into the toy fund's bank account and quickly withdrew $3,990 which he then deposited into a joint bank account he operated with his wife. The diverted money was then used to pay for various personal expenses.
Buffis allegedly lied to law enforcement about the disposition of the funds.
If convicted, Buffis faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on each of the counts followed by five years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
Buffis will be summoned to appear in court for his initial appearance.
Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless says the accusations target one man, not the Lee Police Department.
For those who have donated cash or toys to the Edward J. Lalilberte Toy Fund or for those who have applied to the Edward J. Laliberte Toy Fund, please contact the FBI at 413-732-0159.