Former Cop Chief Allegedly Scammed Christmas Fund for $51K

Stealing toy money for underprivileged kids only the latest charge from prosecutors

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Protect and defend may have turned into pervert and defraud, according to federal prosecutors. The US Attorney's Office charged that former Lee, Massachusetts police chief Joseph Buffis diverted $51,044 in donations for a toy fund to his family's bank account for their personal use over a five year period, as a press release explained.

The 56-year-old Buffis faces "three counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, and four counts of money laundering." He allegedly asked the public for donations on Lee Police Department letterhead for the Edward J. Laliberte Toy Fund. The fund was supposed to raise money to buy toys for local needy children and provide assistance during the holidays for their families. People donated cash, checks, and toys. Prosecutors say that the physical toys gave Buffis a "reserve" that he could distribute while skimming money out of the fund for himself and his family.

Between January 2007 and December 2011, prosecutors claim that Buffis brought in $52,105 in 706 check donations from 343 donors. In the same period, he only once deposited cash: $145 in November 2010. Supposedly only one check, for $250, was ever written to a needy family, and that was in December 2009.

From Jan. 1, 2007 through Jan. 31, 2012, Buffis wrote approximately 53 checks totaling approximately $51,044, a substantial portion of which he used for the benefit of himself and his family. These checks included checks written to Buffis and/or "Cash" and deposited into accounts which he owned with family members.

Buffis has pled not guilty to the charges. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and upwards of $250,000 for each count.

These charges are only the latest targeting Buffis. In August 2013, he was indicted on money laundering and extortion charges, according to WAMC radio. At the time, he was charged with extorting $4,000 from a Lee couple, Tara Viola and Thomas Fusco, who had been accused of running a prostitution business out of an inn they owned, as the price for dropping the charges. Buffis then supposedly deposited the money into the toy fund and then took most of it out for his personal use.

According to WAMC, the town of Lee fired Buffis last August, although reportedly not because of the prosecution. He had allegedly improperly billed the town for his personal cell phone use, according to the Berkshire Eagle. The US Attorney's Office put the total billing at $5,091. Buffis allegedly had ordered four iPhones for himself and three officers for official use and instead kept one and gave the other three to his wife and two children.

Charges against Viola and Fusco were reinstated and are scheduled for a pre-trial hearing in October, according to a Berkshire Eagle report. The couple's defense attorney had asked for a delay until then because the two were "cooperative witnesses for the federal government" and asked that the Buffis case first be resolved.

Lee hired a new police chief last year, according to WNYC-TV. Buffis had been on the force for a total of 34 years.

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sss999777

how do you get that old and still be a low life scum, he had to be doing stuff like this his whole life and he has not changed

September 09 2014 at 3:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
streetlaw1

At least Savannah, GA does not have the only indicted former Chief of Police.

September 05 2014 at 1:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tallywg

Perhaps for cases like this we should have a prisoner exchange with ISIS!

September 03 2014 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tallywg

This guy has no conscience and shouldn't be allowed in public. In fact, for cases like these we should have a prisoner exchange with ISIS!

September 03 2014 at 11:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tallywg

This guy has no conscience and shouldn't allowed out in public! I'm also concerned about the character of his family as they seemed to have been complicit! His kids have likely been brought up to believe it's ok to deceive and steal!

September 03 2014 at 10:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
justiceforpatperjury

JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED

A CALL FOR JUSTICE
PETITION TO THE DOJ, MEDIA AND PUBLIC TO OPEN A FORMAL
INVESTIGATION INTO THE CORRUPTION and MISUSE OF POWER IN JASPER COUNTY INDIANA GOVERNMENT
The sheriff here would buy himself another Tahoe

September 03 2014 at 9:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
papasam711

IF YOU DO THE CRIME YOU DO THE TIME

September 03 2014 at 8:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Trapper

A dirty cop - lots of them out there, but stealing from kids is despicable. Giving toys to kids at the holidays pulls at the heart strings. No kid should ever have nothing under the tree at Christmas. Hope he spends many holidays behind bars.

September 03 2014 at 8:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rkeeeballs

Forget that he is a cop....no special treatment. He is a career criminal...TREAT HIM AS ONE !!!..Prison !

September 03 2014 at 8:13 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Ma Fosz

Underprivileged kids would be an easy target for this Policemen. Just look at what happen in the City of Ferguson, St. Louis County, Missouri USA.

September 03 2014 at 8:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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