Lee Selectmen: Status quo on police chief as secretive FBI probe continues
LEE -- The Board of Selectmen has no immediate intention of taking action against Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis during an ongoing FBI investigation.
Town resident Deidre Consolati -- citing the concerns of several townspeople, she said -- asked the three-member panel at its Tuesday night meeting if it was going to consider placing Buffis on administrative leave.
"No," Chairwoman Patricia Carlino replied, "and no [resident] has said anything about it to me."
"I don't think so," said board member David Consolati.
Board members said the FBI hasn't leveled any charges against Buffis since federal authorities carried out a court-ordered search of the Lee Police Department and a home in Pittsfield just before Thanksgiving.
"There's no accusation against the chief," said Selectman Gordon Bailey.
Carlino added, "You can bet we'll follow through on anything that comes before us."
Upon hearing about the exchange on Wednesday, Buffis said, "The police department appreciates the continued support of the board and the townspeople."
The police chief confirmed two weeks ago that he had retained an attorney, but hasn't commented further on the case.
Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation aren't revealing the purpose of the investigation, including whether Buffis is the target. The Selectmen say they too have been kept out of the loop regarding the case.
FBI Supervisor Mark Karangekis, who heads the agency's Springfield office, is leading the investigation.
"It's an ongoing investigation and really can't comment further," Karangekis said on Wednesday.
The FBI has been in "no comment" mode since its search of the Lee Police Department office and the Pittsfield residence on Nov. 19. Federal agents have declined to disclose the nature of the search and what -- if anything -- was seized.
The FBI has also declined to say if the city residence it raided belongs to an employee of the Lee Police Department. Buffis, a Lee native and 33-year veteran of Lee law enforcement, has lived in Pittsfield for eight years.
During Tuesday's Selectmen's meeting, Lee resident Beverly Trombley said she was concerned about the chief living out of town.
"People who hold these jobs should live here," she said.
Town officials pointed out state Civil Service allows municipal police officers to live within 15 miles from the community that employs them. The Selectmen also said Buffis has been trying to sell his Pittsfield home and move to Lee, since the 54-year-old was named the town's police chief in September 2011.
The board pointed out that Buffis is a home-grown product of the local police force.
"He has come up through the ranks, becoming a sergeant before becoming chief," said Consolati.
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