Former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis seeks sentencing delay


SPRINGFIELD — Former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis is scheduled to surrender to federal authorities on Tuesday to begin serving his prison term on an extortion charge.

But a hearing has been set for 9:30 a.m. in U.S. District Court in Springfield on his request for a delay until authorities determine where he will serve his time.

Buffis, 57, was sentenced in May to serve 27 months for his conviction, which followed a three-week trial last June.

Judge Mark G. Mastroianni reluctantly agreed to allow Buffis to turn himself in once a determination had been made to which prison he would be sent. That date was set for June 14.

But as of June 6, the Federal Bureau of Prisons had not received Buffis' judgement from U.S. Marshals and no determination had been made on his ultimate destination.

Buffis' attorney, Lori Levinson, filed a motion seeking a delay in the surrender, noting the process could take up to 10 days. She said if Buffis surrenders without a prison being designated, he will likely be housed in a local jail or prison until that happens.

"Due to the nature of (Buffis') position a former chief of police, we respectfully urge this court to not subject (Buffis) to potential incarceration with inmates he may have played a role in prosecuting," her motion read.

According to court files, federal prosecutors objected to the motion on the basis the request would delay Buffis' surrender date.

Levinson said a delay would be no more than a week.

Buffis was convicted of soliciting a bogus $4,000 donation from a Lee couple in exchange for the dropping of pending criminal charges.

He was also acquitted of 10 other charges — including fraud and money laundering — related to his alleged theft of funds from a charity toy fund he oversaw.

Buffis was sentenced on May 17, and likely would have received less than the 27 months if he had taken responsibility and acknowledged his crime, Mastroianni said.

In a letter to the court prior to sentencing, Buffis said he still believed he'd done, "the right thing at the right time for the right reasons."

On his way out of the courthouse following the sentencing, Buffis declined comment but instead told media gathered outside, "God bless America and vote for Donald Trump!"

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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