Lee residents curious about FBI investigation


LEE -- Two days after FBI agents carried out a search of the town's police department, Lee residents are left wondering what is prompting a federal law enforcement inquiry and the town's police chief to get a lawyer.

However, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies involved are refusing to detail the circumstances behind the search, what they were looking for and what, if anything, they seized.

"It sounds serious. No one wants to make a guess about this potentially serious allegation," said Lee resident Phil Smith, while sitting on a bench a few blocks from the Lee Police Department.

The FBI carried out a court-authorized search at the Lee Police Department on Monday and at an unspecified home in Pittsfield.

The FBI, which is leading the investigation and does not release details on ongoing investigations, stated no arrests have been made as of Wednesday afternoon.

Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis, a 33-year veteran of Lee law enforcement, wouldn't comment on the investigation, but he did say he has retained an attorney. No one would say if the investigation is focusing specifically on Buffis.

On Wednesday, Buffis was not at work because of a scheduled day off.

About a dozen people walking along the town's center said they were aware of the FBI search as reported in the media, through Facebook or from word-of-mouth.

After hearing about the FBI search, Smith said he was curious enough where he checked media news outlets Tuesday night specifically trying to learn more about development.

"I hate to make a strong statement without know why, but it's something I want to know about," said Smith, who expressed a positive opinion about the department.

Frank Consolati, who runs a downtown insurance company, said that since Buffis took over the department last year, the police have taken a more visible presence in Lee.

He said that Buffis is a regular presence downtown, whereas "people never know who they were" before, said Consolati, who said the presence in the community is better than it has been for the last decade.

The FBI is working with Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, FBI Supervisor Mark 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.


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