LEE, Mass. – Members of the Town of Lee Select Board met Tuesday to discuss how to proceed in the case of the police chief recently indicted for extortion and three counts of money laundering, unanimously voting to terminate his employment.
But it wasn't the indictment that ended in his termination – it was a cellphone.
The Town Administrator said it was instead due to the discovery of alleged misappropriations of town funds to provide cell phones and services to his wife and children. He said the fraud had been going on for 18 months and totaled $5,000.
Buffis's lawyer, Lori Levinson said the town absolutely knew about the cell phones.
"They would not have paid for four cell phones for 18 months when it clearly stated on the bill that there were four separate lines if they didn't want to pay for them," she said.
Levinson also said that despite the payment of the cell phones not being in his contract, negotiations were made when he was appointed chief that the town would pay for them. The city administrator denied that, so the Board unanimously terminated Buffis.
Joseph Buffis, 55, 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. In the meantime, former Chief Ronald Glidden has been appointed to serve temporarily as the Town of Lee Police Chief.
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