Former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis to begin prison sentence June 14

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SPRINGFIELD — Former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis will begin his 27-month prison sentence later this month, just over a year after he was found guilty of extortion.

Buffis, 57, has been ordered to surrender himself to U.S. Marshals at 10 a.m. June 14.

Buffis received his sentence on May 17 at a hearing before Judge Mark G. Mastroianni.

At the time, Mastroianni said he was reluctant to allow Buffis to self-surrender in favor of being taken into custody immediately following the hearing, but he allowed it after federal prosecutors did not air an objection.

Messages left with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to determine which facility Buffis will be sent to, were not returned by press time.

Buffis was the focus of a three-week trial last year over allegations that he embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from a charity toy fun he oversaw while chief and strong-armed a Lee couple into making a bogus $4,000 donation to that fund in exchange for dropping criminal charges against them.

He was acquitted of 10 counts, including wire fraud and money laundering, but he was convicted on the lone count of extortion on June 9, 2015.

Buffis may have received a lesser sentence were it not for a lack of acknowledgement of wrongdoing and refusal to accept responsibility for his actions.

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

At the sentencing hearing, Mastroianni said he found it "distressing" that Buffis failed to recognize that he had abused his position as chief. And that failure, the judge suggested, may stem from a "deep psychological issue."

Prosecutors had asked Mastroianni to sentence Buffis to 33 months, based on federal sentencing guidelines. His attorney, Lori Levinson recommended a sentence of probation and community service.

Levinson has filed an appeal of Buffis' sentence.

After Buffis' eventual release from custody, he will be required to complete 200 hours of community service and two years of supervised release.

During that time, Buffis must report to the Probation Department, "support his ... dependants and meet other family responsibilities," find work, permit probation officers to visit him at home or elsewhere and will not be permitted to possess a firearm.


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