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Family and friends of priest want answers

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Buffalo: Family and friends of priest want answers
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Police say if new evidence comes out in the death of Father Joe Moreno,
they'll investigate. It comes as family and friends hire an attorney because they're having a hard time believing he took his own life.

The Erie County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Moreno's October death was the result of a self-inflicted gun wound, But Attorney Steve Cohen says all the facts presented so far point to homicide.

Among the group that hired Cohen are Moreno's sister, niece, and several unidentified priests.

Cohen says just before his death Moreno was investigating a large sum of money that was missing from his parish.

The Diocese of Buffalo says it will help in any new investigations into Moreno's death in any way they can.

Family and friends of a beloved Buffalo priest are having a hard time believing he took his own life. As YNN's Ryan Whalen reports, they've hired an attorney to investigate the circumstances surrounding Father Joe Moreno's death.

Father Joseph Moreno was found in the rectory of St. Lawrence Church in October, slumped over in a chair.

"The facts in this case overwhelmingly point to homicide," said Steven Cohen, HoganWillig Law Firm.

The Erie County Medical Examiner's Office ruled he was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"The gun that was used to kill Father Moreno was not his pistol. It was a gun that had been stolen. It was not within Father Moreno's character to have stolen property of any sort," Cohen said.

Attorney Steve Cohen says the wound was behind the priest's left ear. He says Father Moreno was right-handed and had nerve damage in his left arm.

"He couldn't pick up the chalice during mass. He didn't have any grip strength with his left hand."

For all these reasons, several people closed to Father Moreno maintain he didn't kill himself. A group of them, including his sister and niece and several unidentified priests, have hired Cohen to look into the death.

"The members of the clergy don't want to disclose their names but they're part of this as well."

The priests want to remain unidentified, Cohen says, because they believe the diocese doesn't want certain information becoming public.

"Father Moreno had discovered a tremendous loss of funds, missing funds in six figures, missing from the church."

The attorney says it could've been motive for a murder.

"As he began to compile evidence and as it began to point to certain people, just at that juncture he's found dead."

Cohen says he and forensic specialists from his law firm will be visiting the crime scene to start their own investigation.

YNN has reached out to the Diocese of Buffalo with questions about the investigation into Father Moreno's death and is waiting for a response.

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