Posted at: 08/09/2013 11:50 PM
By: Dan Levy
LEE, MASSACHUSETTS - An attorney representing the now suspended Lee, Massachusetts police chief adamantly denies any wrong doing involving her client.
Even though you'd probably expect to hear that coming from a defense attorney, something else happened Friday in that case that many people weren't expecting. What some people may not have seen coming was Chief Joseph Buffis' alleged victims, themselves, becoming defendants, as Berkshire County's top prosecutor decides to reinstate criminal charges against them.
The convoluted case began in January, 2012 after an undercover police investigation at the Inn on Laurel Lake led to prostitution charges involving the owners of the inn. A federal indictment alleges Buffis ignored the prostitution charges against the owners, Tara and Thomas Fusco, after the donated $4,000 to a holiday toy drive for children, that he controlled, money the U.S. attorney says Buffis cashed in for personal use.
"I believe Chief Buffis has done absolutely nothing wrong and that at this point an indictment is merely a charge," said Lori Levinson, Buffis' Great Barrington-based attorney. "I think it's pretty devastating to a man who has enjoyed a very long and distinguished unblemished career in law enforcement."
Meanwhile, back at the inn, the Fusco's found out Friday they're not out of the legal woods just yet. Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless says he's reinstating criminal charges against them; each one facing a count of keeping a house of ill-fame, and the wife being separately charged with engaging in sexual conduct for a fee.
"They've been very cooperative in the investigation," Capeless said, "At the same time, we can't just ignore a situation as serious as prostitution going on at a local inn."
Levinson says she expects her client to be arraigned by the end of the month, and a trial could take another year.
Capeless says the Fusco's -- charged only with misdemeanors -- will be summoned to appear in court sometime soon.
In the meantime, the Inn at Laurel Lake remains open for business. And the interim police chief, overseeing ten full time officers in Lee, is Ronald Glidden, who ran the department for 17 years, retiring in 2011.