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Grand jury probe of Evans fatal hit-and-run expands

The Erie County district attorney’s office has issued subpoenas for several witnesses to testify before a grand jury in connection with the death of Barry T. Moss, an Evans handyman who was killed by a hit-and-run driver almost 31 months ago.

A number of police officers and “several civilians” have been called to testify, Evans Police Chief Ernest Masullo told The Buffalo News.

“The DA served subpoenas on members of our police department and several civilians,” Masullo said. “The investigation has broadened in its scope.”

The police chief declined to comment in further detail, except to say that FBI agents and State Police are working closely with his officers and the DA’s office as they continue to investigate.

Sources close to the case told The News Saturday that the district attorney’s investigation is now heating up with the calling of witnesses to a grand jury.

Masullo confirmed those reports, as did Eoannou. A source close to the case said the witnesses are expected to testify “soon…within the next week or so.”

“I am aware that subpoenas recently have gone out in relation to this investigation,” Eoannou said. “I believe they are actually related to a tangential matter, related to the Evans investigation.”

Flaherty declined to comment when contacted by a reporter on Saturday.

Moss, a 52-year-old handyman, father and grandfather, was fatally injured by a hit-and-run driver early on the morning of Dec. 22, 2013. Moss was hit as he walked or rode his bicycle along Route 5 near Moss’s home in Evans.

Police have stated repeatedly – in public statements and in official reports – that they believe that Gabriele Ballowe, the former owner of an Angola lakefront bar, was the driver who hit Moss and left the scene. Police said they found traces of Moss’s DNA on Ballowe’s sport utility vehicle and also found small broken pieces from the vehicle at the accident scene.

Ballowe, now 50, hired Thomas J. Eoannou to represent her and has refused to discuss the matter with police.

While Masullo has repeatedly said he believes there is enough evidence to charge and convict Ballowe, former DA Frank Sedita III disagreed. No charges have been filed.

After Sedita was elevated to the position of State Supreme Court judge, his former top assistant – Michael J. Flaherty Jr. – became the acting DA in January. According to law enforcement officials, one of Flaherty’s first acts in office was to order one of his aides to work with police on a renewed investigation into the hit-run death.

Although Ballowe has not been criminally charged, her driver’s license was revoked last year after a state Department of Motor Vehicles law judge ruled that he found “abundant evidence” that she was driving the SUV that killed Moss, and that she was intoxicated.

Ballowe and her insurers also paid an undisclosed amount last year to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Moss’s survivors.