United States v. Buffis, No. 16-1681 (1st Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of extortion under color of official right. Defendant was the former chief of police of the town of Lee, Massachusetts. The conviction stemmed from Defendant’s act of taking money from individuals accused of running a “house of ill repute” in return for a promise to halt their prostitution prosecution. Defendant appealed, arguing that the jury verdict must be overturned because he did not coerce the individuals into paying up, and without proof of coercion, he could not be guilty of extortion. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) where the government presents evidence that the government official received a payment under color of official right, it need not prove that the official induced the payment through fear; and (2) the government was not required to show that Defendant originated the idea for the payment rather than simply capitalizing on an idea suggested by one of those individuals.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on August 28, 2017.