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Priest's Trial Date Set in Thefts

April 24, 1993|BARBARA MURPHY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A June 28 trial date was set Friday for a Catholic priest charged with stealing $60,000 in collection money from two Ventura County parishes.

Also on Friday, a judge ordered the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles to give the priest's attorney certain financial records related to how money was spent at Sacred Heart Church in Saticoy and St. Peter Claver Church in Simi Valley.

Father David Dean Piroli, 36, is charged with two counts of grand theft by embezzlement for allegedly stealing collection money from the parishes when he served as assistant pastor.

The charges stem from the discovery of a large amount of money in Piroli's church-owned car and in his bedroom after a Hollywood drug arrest in May, 1992. Archdiocesan officials suspended Piroli from his church duties when he disappeared for several weeks following his drug arrest. No drug charges were filed.

He remains free on $100,000 bond, posted by parishioners who support him.

Piroli's trial has been delayed because of legal disputes over which financial records had to be released by the archdiocese. In January, an attorney for the church gave prosecutors donation records at Sacred Heart since 1984 and St. Peter Claver since 1988.

While church leaders did not object to the release of collection records, they have tried to block an attempt by Piroli's attorney to examine all financial documents for the two parishes.

The archdiocese's attorney, David P. Callahan, has argued that it is a matter of privacy to protect the donation totals for individual parishioners and a listing of church expenditures.

Piroli's attorney, Richard J. Beada, has said he believes the church's financial records are too sloppy to prove whether any money was taken.

Superior Court Judge Allan L. Steele on Friday ordered the archdiocese to turn over to the defense all documents relating to the parishes' general and building funds. The records must include how the money was spent, Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary C. Peace said.

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