SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts — A former Massachusetts police chief who had been charged with embezzling a department-run charity that buys Christmas gifts for underprivileged children and extorting a $4,000 donation to the fund has been acquitted of all but one of the charges he faced.
Ex-Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis was found guilty Tuesday in federal court in Springfield of extortion but acquitted of 10 other charges including wire fraud and money laundering.
Prosecutors alleged that Buffis coerced local innkeepers facing prostitution charges into donating $4,000 to the Laliberte Toy Fund in exchange for dropping the charges. They also allege he diverted money from the toy fund for his personal use, with "a substantial portion" benefiting him and his family.
Buffis' lawyer said he was just a poor record keeper. He was fired in 2013.