Residents of Lee respond to the indictment of town’s police chief

The community of Lee, Massachusetts is still digesting the details of the indictment against its sitting police chief. Some residents say they’re withholding judgment until Chief Joseph Buffis has his day in court. 

Following Buffis’ indictment on charges of extortion and money laundering, Town Administrator Robert Nason suspended him without pay. Buffis was promoted to chief of police in September 2011, after working his way through the ranks over the course of thirty years on the force.

In downtown Lee, Phil Smith says he’s hoping the allegations are eventually refuted.

“I think we all hope here that these charges prove to be inaccurate and that he’s exonerated. He’s a very nice man and has been very accommodating and good to the people in the town, and we would hope that it’s just not true, that it turns out to be false. So, that’s our hope.”

The indictment charges Buffis with compelling a Lee couple, who were under investigation for running a prostitution business from their inn, to give four thousand dollars to a toy fund which Buffis had volunteered with for years. The indictment says he later transferred that money to his personal checking account. Through a lawyer, Buffis maintains his innocence. 

Adam Gardner finds the charges troubling.

“Anytime somebody in that position, you know, is accused and, you know, indicted for this kind of behavior, it is sad, I don’t know him personally but I know that he is very well known in the community obviously and if it’s true it’s unfortunate and disappointing.”

The Lee Selectboard will discuss the terms of Buffis’ suspension when it meets on August 20th.