Home About Archives RSS Feed

Lee Police Officer Resigns Amid Evidence Theft Investigation

Staff Reports
LEE, Mass. — A police officer has resigned while being investigated for allegedly stealing evidence.
 
The district attorney's office says Ryan Lucy, one of two evidence officers for the Lee Police Department, resigned and entered substance abuse rehabilitation treatment on Aug. 29. He is cooperating with investigators, the district attorney's office says, with an investigation regarding theft of evidence.
 
The Police Department became suspicious in late July when cash from an investigation went missing. State Police detectives were called to audit the department's evidence. 
 
A total of $1,408 in cash was found to be missing from the evidence locker from two investigations and one prior disposed criminal case. The money has been returned since the first phase of the investigation.
 
Detectives also discovered that drugs received through the department's drop box for unused medications were stolen.
 
The audit is not complete but the district attorney's office says it does not appear that any other evidence related to pending or recently completed cases has been compromised.
 
The office says no further information will be forthcoming until the investigation is completed.
     

Former Lee Police Chief Facing Federal Charges

Staff Reports

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A former Lee police chief is facing further charges related to stealing from a Christmas toy fund.

Joseph Buffis, 56, of Pittsfield was charged Thursday in U.S. District Court in a superseding indictment with three counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and four counts of money laundering, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office.

On Aug. 8, 2013, Buffis was charged in an initial indictment with extortion and three counts of money laundering.

According to the superseding indictment, Buffis used his position as a police officer to solicit public donations on behalf of the Edward J. Laliberte Toy Fund, ostensibly to use for toy purchases for needy families, primarily by sending notices on Lee Police Department letterhead to The Berkshire Eagle, which regularly published them in its print and online editions.

Buffis' notices were materially fraudulent and false, say prosecutors, in that they failed to disclose that he was using a substantial part of the donations for his personal use. Donated toys, they say, were distributed to mask the diversion of cash and check contributions.

As alleged in the superseding indictment, from January 2007 through December 2011, Buffis deposited 706 checks into the Toy Fund account from 343 different donors totaling $52,105. During this same period, he deposited cash only once: a deposit of $145 on Nov. 23, 2010. Buffis wrote only one Toy Fund check of $250 to a needy family in December 2009. From Jan. 1, 2007, through Jan. 31, 2012, Buffis wrote approximately 53 checks totaling approximately $51,044, a substantial portion of which he used for the benefit of himself and his family. These checks included checks written to Buffis and/or "Cash" and deposited into accounts which he owned with family members.

Also, in February 2012, Buffis extorted a $4,000 check payable to the Toy Fund from two individuals who were facing prostitution-related charges, according to the indictment. He deposited the check into the Toy Fund's bank account and quickly withdrew $3,990 with three checks that he wrote to "Cash" but deposited into a joint bank account that he operated with his wife.

In addition, after becoming chief in 2011, he arranged for the town of Lee to provide the police force with four iPhones — one for himself and three for other officers. Rather than distribute the three iPhones, he gave them to his wife and their two children for their own personal use, according to the indictment, and cost the town $5,091 for the phone service.

The charging statutes provide a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 on each count.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Vincent B. Lisi, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Timothy P. Alben, commissioner of the Massachusetts State Police, made the announcement Thursday. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow of Ortiz's Springfield Branch Office.

     

Lee Police Chief Indicted On Extortion, Money Laundering Charges

Staff Reports

LEE, Mass. — Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis was indicted in federal court Thursday on extortion and money laundering charges.

Buffis, 55, of Pittsfield allegedly extorted $4,000 in "donations" from two individuals who were facing charges related to prostitution, according to the U.S. attorney general's office. The donation was made payable to the Edward J. Laliberte Toy Fund, which Buffis had control over, and then withdrawn and deposited into Buffis' bank account.

According to prosecutors, the money was used to pay personal expenses. Buffis also allegedly lied to law enforcement about the funds.

"To be entrusted to serve and protect is a great honor and privilege. The alleged actions of Chief Buffis disgrace the many incredible law enforcement stewards who uphold and enforce the law.  Actions like these threaten the credibility of our justice system, and we will not stand idly by and allow the trust of our communities to be violated,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz in a statement released on Thursday.

Buffis was indicted on the three counts of money laundering and a single count of extortion. He could face up to 20 years in prison on each count, followed by five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Buffis has not yet appeared in court for a plea.

The toy fund was named for Laliberte, a longtime Lee police officer, who in the 1950s began to provide toys for the town's needy children at Christmastime.

"The allegations contained in the federal indictment describe a serious breach of the public trust, and my office will continue to work with United States Attorney Ortiz and her office to see that justice is done and order restored," Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless said in a statement. "It should be made clear that these accusations are made against one man, Joseph Buffis, not the Lee Police Department or any other members of its force. My office will continue to work proudly alongside the Lee Police Department to ensure safety and justice in the town of Lee and throughout Berkshire County."

The alleged crime was reportedly uncovered by Capeless' office and state police. The case is being tried out of the Springfield federal court.

"This is another example of a successful investigation and extraordinary teamwork between the FBI, the Massachusetts State Police, United States attorney and Berkshire district attorney's offices. The conduct charged in this indictment demonstrates law enforcement’s commitment to pursue public corruption at any level. We will not tolerate these acts, especially from those who have sworn to serve and protect the community and its citizens,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Vincent B. Lisi in a statement.

Police are still seeking the public's assistance in the case. For those who have donated cash or toys to the fund or have applied to the fund are asked to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Springfield agency at 413-732-0159.

Buffis Indictment

 

     

President of Enviro-Labs Faces Additional Charges

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — William Enser Jr., the president of Berkshire Enviro-Labs, was back in Superior Court on Tuesday facing new charges.

Enser previously pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of knowingly falsifying reports submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection and 15 counts of willfully making false reports to MassDEP. He allegedly backdated drinking-water sample analysis to cover up misconduct and feign compliance with environmental laws.

He now faces an additional 14 counts of willfully making false reports to the MassDEP and another 14 counts of knowingly falsifying submitted reports, all of which he pleaded not guilty to in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday. The additional charges brings the total counts up to 58.

According to Attorney General Martha Coakley, Enser, 63, of Lee, continued to work at the lab through February 2013 and failed to submit required sampling that showed bacterial contamination in drinking water samples.

Enser allegedly hid samples that revealed contamination and instead took multiple samples and sent only passing results to the state. Authorities say that in one instance in October 2012, Enser directed an employee to report a drinking water sample which had come from the tap in the Enviro-Labs’ office instead of the public water source.

The lab's certification for testing samples has been revoked by the state.

"These additional charges allege that this defendant failed to submit water sample analysis that showed bacterial contamination to the MassDEP," Coakley said in a press release issued on Tuesday. "He is now prohibited from being involved in the operation of the company and is no longer able to tamper with water testing reports and potentially put people at risk."

After the first arraignment, Enser was prohibited by the court to act as the drinking water system operator, take drinking water samples, conducting water testing or reporting water data. But, he remained active with the company and Judge Daniel Ford ordered receivership of Enviro-Labs. Enser is prohibited from being involved in the company in any way.

"The Environmental Strike Force's continued investigation into the activities of Mr. Enser, who has already been indicted for falsifying drinking water reports, has now revealed evidence of additional fraud," said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of MassDEP. "MassDEP is committed to upholding the integrity and the safety of drinking water programs across the Commonwealth."

The investigation began in September 2012. Enser is due back in court in June.

     

Train Derails in Lee

Staff Reports
We were sent this pictures on Sunday of a train derailment occurred at Columbia Mill in Lee, where Columbia Street runs into East Center Street. Cranes can be seen lifting cars back into position. No further information was available.

 

     
Page 1 of 3 1  2  3  
News Headlines
North Adams Movieplex Holds 'Five For Free' Food Drive
North Adams Groups Holding Toy & Clothing Drive
Biz Briefs: Downtown Window Decoration Contest Winners Announced
Berkshires Beat: Young Democrats Mobilize in Western Massachusetts
Regional Planners Still Waiting On DLTA Funds To Be Released
Clarksburg Welcomes Reserve Officers, Hears From Ed Task Force
North Adams Indoor Sports Facility Marks Third Anniversary
Attorney General Upholds Williamstown's Waubeeka ByLaw
Berkshire County Arc Holds Annual Meeting
Live Feed: Pittsfield Lights the Christmas Tree

Police Logs

Pittsfield Police

North Adams

Crimewatch Links

North Adams CrimeWatch

Stamford/Clarksburg CrimeWatch

Pittsfield CrimeWatch

Emergency: 911
Adams 413-743-1212
Clarksburg 413-663-7795
Cheshire 413-743-1501
Dalton 413-684-0300
Great Barrington 413-528-0306
Lanesborough 413-443-4107
Lee 413-243-2100
Lenox 413-637-2346
North Adams 413-664-4944
Pittsfield 413-448-9700
Richmond 413-698-3315
Stockbridge 413-298-4179
Williamstown 413-458-5733
West Stockbridge 413-232-7938
State Police  
Cheshire Barracks
413-743-
4700
Lee Barracks 413-243-0600
Shaftsbury, Vt., Barracks 802-442-3263

 



Categories:
Adams (53)
Alford (0)
Becket (6)
Cheshire (14)
Clarksburg (31)
Dalton (5)
Egremont (0)
Florida (5)
Great Barrington (17)
Hancock (5)
Hinsdale (3)
Lanesborough (22)
Lee (12)
Lenox (11)
Monterey (0)
Mount Washington (0)
New Ashford (5)
New Marlborough (1)
North Adams (181)
Otis (2)
Peru (2)
Pittsfield (198)
Pownal (12)
Readsboro (13)
Richmond (8)
Sandisfield (2)
Savoy (5)
Sheffield (2)
Stamford (29)
State (1)
Stockbridge (5)
Tyringham (1)
Washington (1)
West Stockbridge (1)
Williamstown (65)
Windsor (3)
Archives:
December 2016 (1)
November 2016 (6)
October 2016 (13)
September 2016 (15)
August 2016 (20)
July 2016 (13)
June 2016 (12)
May 2016 (14)
April 2016 (6)
Tags:
Heroin Structure Fire Larceny Vehicle Crash Murder Motor Vehicle Rape Shooting Veremko Injuries Robbery Arrest Accident Fraud Armed Robbery Search Mvi Assault Break-ins Motor Vehicle Accident Missing Persons Crime Watch Fire Assaults Homicide Police Fatal Buglaries Drug Charges Stabbing Police Investigation Cocaine Drugs Pedestrians
Popular Entries:
Great Barrington Crashes Leave Two Dead
North Adams Woman Killed in Route 2 Crash
North Adams Man Crashes SUV Into Home
Man Killed by Bull in Clarksburg
North Adams Man Arraigned on Child Porn Charges
Kincaid Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Rape
Cariddi Auto Sales Burns
Fatal Accident Closes Route 8 in Adams
Donations Reach State Road Fire Victims
New Ashford Crash Turns Fatal for Williamstown Man
Recent Entries:
Superior Court Briefs: Nov. 15 - Dec. 1
Pittsfield Teen Accosted On Elm Street
Pittsfield Man Pleads Guilty to MassHealth Fraud
Teen in Critical Condition Following Pittsfield Shooting
North Adams Apartment Fire Forces Out Five Families
Superior Court Briefs: Nov. 7 - Nov. 9
Superior Court Briefs: Nov. 3
Pittsfield Police Bringing Charges in 'G' Vandalism Case
Police Warn of 'Bail Money' Phone Scam
Superior Court Briefs: Oct. 24 - Oct. 27