Former Lee Police Chief pleads not guilty to extortion, money la - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Former Lee Police Chief pleads not guilty to extortion, money laundering

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The Lee Police Chief whose employment was recently terminated during a meeting of the Town of Lee Select Board was in federal court Thursday to enter a not guilty plea on charges of extortion and money laundering.

Joseph Buffis, 55, appeared in Springfield Federal Court standing silently while the judge read the charges against him.

The former chief 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, and later terminated by the Town of Lee Select Board for an unrelated matter.  

During the court appearance he asked the judge to appoint council claiming since he had been terminated from his position he could not continue to afford his current council, Lori Levinson. Levinson, however, is on the public defender list and asked the judge to appoint her. The judge did not make a decision on this because sufficient evidence of his financials was not provided.

Council will go over all of the evidence and information and be back in court on December 4th.  

In the meantime, former Chief Ronald Glidden has been appointed to serve temporarily as the Town of Lee Police Chief.

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