Lawyer For Lee's Ex-Police Chief Wants Supreme Court To Hear Case

Aug 16, 2017

Former Lee, Massachusetts, police chief Joseph Buffis lost an appeal this week to have a federal extortion charge thrown out. His lawyer said he's now appealing to the US Supreme Court.

In 2015, Buffis was found guilty of extorting a $4,000 donation to a toy fund he oversaw, and allegedly raided for his own use, from a couple arrested in connection with a prostitution ring.

His attorney, Seth Kretzer, said Buffis can't be guilty of extortion since one of those arrested offered money to make the case go away.

"Not only did my client not suggest that the money be paid, but was not involved with the initial arresting decision," Kretzer said. "That's the key distinction.

So what are the odds the Supreme Court will hear the case? Slim, according to Western New England University Law School Professor Art Wolf.

"It's a hard road to hoe," Wolf said. "I'm always kind of chuckling when I read in the paper or hear on TV where some lawyer says, 'Oh, we lost this case. We're taking it right to the Supreme Court,'" Wolf said. "Think about it, 8000 cases [filed] a year, approximately, [and] they're taking 80 cases."

Wolf said four justices would have to agree to hear the case in order for it to go forward.

Kretzer acknowledged it's a long shot the case will be heard, but said he will file the appeal to the high court within the next 90 days.

Buffis is currently serving a 27-month sentence at a federal prison in West Virginia. He's scheduled to be released next May.

US First Circuit Court of Appeals Decision on Joseph Buffis' appeal by New England Public Radio on Scribd