Joseph Buffis, former police chief of Lee, Massachusetts has been accused of embezzling more than $50,000 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, despite the fact that the account had taken in over $51,000.
Now the account is empty and there is significant evidence showing that Chief Buffis used the money on personal items.
Buffis is now facing twelve federal charges including wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. Many of these charges were added to his indictment this week, as an investigation into his transactions revealed deeper corruption.
It was discovered in the investigation that Buffis spent the money on his own personal bills, at a liquor store, and also a hardware store.
In addition to these charges, Buffis is also facing accusations of “extortion by wrongful use of fear”, because he allegedly forced suspects to put their personal money into this phony charity fund. On one occasion Buffis coerced two business owners into making a $4,000 “donation” to the Laliberte Toy Fund, which was eventually diverted to his own personal bank account.
However, Buffis has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him.
“We expected the new indictments. It wasn’t a surprise at all, now the case can really start moving forward. We can have our day in court. Joe can have his trial, present his defense and hopefully, as we expect, he will be found not guilty. He can restore his good name and the case will be behind him, finally,” Buffis’ attorney, Lori H. Levinson, told The Berkshire Eagle.
Buffis claims that he and other officers hand delivered gifts that were purchased through the fund, but prosecutors say that those toys were not purchased, but donated by people in the community.
Additionally, if toys were actually purchased with the money then there would have been a paper trail to prove this, but there are no records of any legitimate purchases through this account, aside from the one $250 check.
Buffis has another pretrial court appearance scheduled for Sept. 30, and he has remained free on bail since the accusations first surfaced last year.
Sadly this is the second incident this year in which a police officer has stolen money from a children’s charity. Officer Ronald Harris of the Memphis police department decided that he would ‘protect’ a family of a young girl from their bag filled with five t-shirts and a $1,500 pre-paid Visa check card from the Make-A-Wish foundation.
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he is also the owner of a successful music promotion company. In 2013, he became one of the organizers of the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.
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Contributed by John Vibes of The Free Thought Project.