FBI searches Lee Police Department; Chief Buffis retains attorney
LEE -- A day after FBI agents carried out a search at the Lee Police Department, the town's police chief confirmed to The Eagle on Tuesday that he has retained an attorney.
The police chief, Joseph Buffis, a 33-year veteran of Lee law enforcement, wouldn't comment further, nor would he identify his lawyer.
While the FBI's search of the police department on Monday generated buzz and churned the rumor mill in town, what federal authorities actually are looking into remains a mystery.
Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation aren't revealing the reason for it, fending off questions with a blanket response: They don't comment on active inquiries.
The Eagle did confirm Tuesday that the FBI carried out a court-authorized search at the Lee Police Department on Monday and at a home in Pittsfield, according to Special Agent Greg Comcowich, the FBI's media coordinator in Boston.
No one would say if the investigation is focusing on Buffis, who was at work on Tuesday, or if it extends to others in his department. Comcowich declined to answer whether the home belongs to an employee of the Lee Police Department.
Buffis' neighbors on Elaine Drive in Pittsfield said if there was any law enforcement activity Monday at the house, which is set back from the street via a long driveway, they didn't notice.
FBI Supervisor Mark Karangekis, who heads the Springfield office of the FBI, is leading the investigation. On Tuesday, Karangekis said no one had been arrested as of that afternoon.
Karangekis also declined to disclose the nature of the investigation, the reason behind Monday's search, and what -- if anything -- had been confiscated from the police department.
The FBI is working with Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, Karangekis said. The DA's office confirmed Tuesday that state police attached to its office assisted in Monday's investigation, but an office representative would say nothing more.
"It would be inappropriate to comment further since it isn't our case," said Frederick Lantz, the spokesman for Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless.
Lee Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Patricia Carlino and Town Administrator Robert Nason also declined to comment on the case and referred an Eagle reporter to the FBI office in Springfield.
Buffis, a 54-year-old Lee native, was promoted to police chief in September 2011. He had held the sergeant's position in the department since 1994, and he was a patrolman before that.
Eagle staff writers John Sakata, Dick Lindsay and Andrew Amelinckx contributed to this report.
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