The Public Record: Sacha on Flaherty and the Ballowe Indictment

by / Feb. 10, 2016 9am EST

Last Wednesday, we reported that former Erie County DA Frank Sedita sent Mike Flaherty—acting DA and candidate to keep the job—to ask the grand jury that voted to indict Gabrielle Ballowe in the hit-and-run death of Barry Moss to reverse their decision. A new source has re-confirmed the story. The details as we understand them, from multiple sources:

—Assistant DA Bethany Solek of the Vehicular Crimes Bureau presented extensive evidence to the grand jury indicating that Ballowe, who had been drinking the night of December 21 at the bar she owns in Evans, struck Moss with her vehicle and fled the scene, leaving him to die in the snow. The presentation of evidence took a week.

—When Solek was finished, the grand jury gave her an ovation, then voted to indict Ballowe.

—When Solek informed Sedita and Flaherty of the result, Sedita sent Flaherty to address the grand jury.

—Flaherty told Solek to stay outside the grand jury room while he did so, then shut the door.

—Whatever he said convinced a majority—though not all—of the grand jurors to cast new votes not to indict.

We’ve been told that there are two likely reasons that Sedita and Flaherty decided to interfere with the grand jury’s decision-making” 1) Though it would not be difficult to prove Ballowe’s car struck Moss, they worried they’d have more difficulty proving that Ballowe was behind the wheel; 2) a year before, Sedita’s office had very publicly failed in their prosecution of Dr. James Corasanti, another high-profile hit-and-run case with a drunk driver and a dead victim.

Former prosecutor Mark Sacha, who is also running for DA, has made the Ballowe/Moss case a point of attack against Flaherty. Shortly after being sworn in as acting DA, Flaherty said he would reopen the case, a move that Sacha dismisses as self-serving and unethical. Here’s a memo Sacha released this weekend:

Mark Sacha on Mike Flaherty and the Barry Moss case

The Buffalo News’s Bob McCarthy reported yesterday that the Erie County Democratic Party leadership was likely to pass over Flaherty—who, through his relationship with Sedita and some fo the people workin on his campign, is tied to the leadership’s bete noire, Steve Pigeon—and instead endorse former Tonawanda town justice John Flynn. Flynn, Flaherty, and Sacha—all Democrats—will all run regardless of the party’s endorsement. The Republicans, meanwhile, seem to be enjoying the show from the sidelines for now.