“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton
Springfield, MA — Joseph Buffis, former police chief of Lee, Massachusetts has been accused of embezzling more nearly $60,000 from a holiday fund which was supposedly set up for underprivileged children.
Years ago, the “Laliberte Toy Fund” was set up by a now deceased police officer, and in the entire time that the charity was running, only one single check for $250 was sent out to a needy family. This is despite the fact that the account had taken in tens of thousands of dollars.
In May of 2014, the account was discovered to be empty and all the evidence showed that Chief Buffis used the money on personal items. The investigation began when Buffis required two former Lee innkeepers to make a $4,000 “donation” to the toy fund that ultimately ended up in Buffis’ pocket, according to prosecutors.
In March, attorneys for Buffis moved to suppress key evidence in his trial that described how he extorted the funds. They stated that releasing the evidence could reveal how police investigations occur. The motion was rejected by a federal judge.
Buffis is now facing twelve federal charges including wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.
The alleged thievery is actually well over $60,000, however, the statute of limitations has run out on most of the $120,000 of other theft.
According to Mass Live,
Prosecutors are attempting to get into evidence what they say was brazen theft of the fund well beyond the five-year look back carved out in the indictment.
The motion states that a forensic analyst determined that between 1999 and 2012, Buffis took “nearly all” off hundreds of individual donations meant for poor children at Christmas to write checks to “cash,” himself, various credit cards and his own bank.
Buffis has predictably pleaded not guilty to all charges. His trial is set to begin May 18th, and run for three weeks.