SPRINGFIELD — For at least the fifth time, the sentencing hearing for former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis has been delayed.
Buffis was most recently scheduled for sentencing on his extortion conviction on Thursday, but that date has now been pushed back to May 17.
His attorney, Lori Levinson, made the request for this latest rescheduling to allow more time to prepare a sentencing memorandum in the case.
Buffis was found guilty of one count of extortion for coercing a Lee couple into making a bogus $4,000 "donation" to a charity toy fund he oversaw in exchange for the dropping of criminal charges.
He was acquitted of 10 other counts relating to his alleged mishandling of the toy fund accounts and donations.
In her motion filed in U.S. District Court, Levinson said the court's recent decision to allow some of Buffis' alleged conduct — specifically the theft of funds from the Lee Police Association — to be considered at sentencing has created the need to "significantly" revise the pre-sentence report prepared by the Probation Department.
That report was due to be completed on May 5, she said.
Levinson said in light of the revisions, she and Buffis would need an additional week to adequately prepare for sentencing.
"Counsel is mindful of the amount of time it has taken for this case to proceed from verdict to sentencing, and does not wish to prolong the termination of proceedings relative to this matter," she said in her motion,
Levinson said normally a full week would be enough time to prepare a sentencing memorandum based off of a pre-sentencing report, but she felt due to the complexity of both the report and the sentencing issues in this case, that amount of time would not be adequate.
Judge Mark G. Mastroianni didn't grant the full extension request, but did grant five days.
If this latest date stands, it will have been approximately 11 months between Buffis' June 9 conviction and his sentencing.
Prosecutors originally suggested Sept. 24 for sentencing and the hearing has previously been set for Oct. 19, Dec. 7, March 3 and May 12 before this latest date.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the maximum penalty Buffis faces on the extortion conviction is 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Buffis' sentence is expected to be far less than the maximum.
Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.