A long-time toy fund based in Lee, Massachusetts is reportedly the subject of a federal criminal investigation. The Berkshire Eagle newspaper says a request from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Springfield for articles it published on the Laliberte Toy Fund confirms months of speculation about why federal investigators were in the area. Kevin Moran, the paper’s managing editor, says the fund was founded in the late 1950’s by Ed Laliberte, a long-time police officer in Lee, who began making and repairing toys out of his garage to give to needy children.
“The fund grew from that point on ask for donations from the public. And residents of the Lee area would donate to the fund, and toys were purchased to provide kids Christmas toys at the holiday time.”
Moran says the fund had been managed by Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis from 1979 until its suspension last year. He says the FBI has searched both Lee’s Police Department and Buffis’ home in Pittsfield. But it’s still not clear what the nature of their investigation and if Buffis is the target.
“But it’s interesting to note that Buffis, who has been Lee’s Police Chief since September 2011 and with the department for about a total of 33 years, has confirmed that he has, in fact, retained an attorney. And interestingly, the rest of the Lee Police Department has gone on record stating that they are not the subjects of an investigation.”
The FBI says it neither confirms nor denies reports of an investigation, and no charges have been filed. The U.S. Attorney’s office has yet to return calls seeking comment.