Niagara Gazette

February 12, 2013

Buffone faces charge he violated terms of sentence

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A former United Way of Niagara executive, serving three years of probation for misuse of an agency computer, will be back in court today to face a charge that he has violated the terms of his sentence.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Kloch Sr. had ordered Philip Buffone to attend a sex offender treatment program as part of his probation requirements. Prosecutors now say the Buffone has been "kicked out of the treatment program.”

"Evidently he got about halfway through the treatment and then reached a (requirement) that he either couldn't or wouldn't complete," Assistant District Attorney Richard Zucco said. "As a result, he was kicked out of the program and that is the violation of probation (he is charged with)."

Buffone is expected to deny the probation violation at his arraignment and a further hearing will be scheduled. He could have faced up to year in jail for his guilty plea in December 2011 to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized use of a United Way computer.

The one-time United Way vice president had been indicted by a Niagara County grand jury on four counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child and four counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child. However, a deal with prosecutors allowed him to avoid a conviction on the child porn charges.

It also allowed Buffone to avoid having to register as a sex offender.

At his sentencing in March, Kloch said he was concerned about some prior criminal convictions in Buffone’s past, including one for attempted aggravated harassment of a former girlfriend in the 1980s and that was why he included a requirement for sex offender treatment.

Buffone's defense attorney, Alan Roscetti, opposed the requirement and said that despite claims from prosecutors, his client had no contact with child pornography.

“This has been a nightmare for myself and my family,” Buffone said,  “I did not ever view, possess or download (child pornography).”

While acknowledging there were issues relating to the evidence in the case, Zucco said a forensic analysis of Buffone’s work computer showed that between April 2009 and March 2010, there were eight Google searches for “child pornography.”

Roscetti said Buffone admitted, in his plea, to using his work computer for personal emails. Zucco disputed that, saying what Buffone actually pleaded guilty to was viewing adult pornography on his work computer.

Buffone left his employment with the United Way In May 2010.