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East Ventura County Focus

SIMI VALLEY : Prosecutor Says Priest Had $47,000

September 21, 1993|DWAYNE BRAY

Father David Dean Piroli earned roughly $400 a month as a Catholic priest at St. Peter Claver Church in Simi Valley and Sacred Heart Church in Saticoy for about six years, but somehow managed to build a nest's egg of about $47,000 in various local bank accounts, a prosecutor said during a court hearing Monday.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary C. Peace said Piroli, who was arrested in Hollywood in May of last year on suspicion of drug possession, managed to withdraw about $10,000 from the accounts before authorities could obtain a search warrant to seize his assets four months after his arrest.

Those revelations came during a hearing Monday in which a Ventura County judge denied Piroli's request to release the money to him so he could pay for his defense. Piroli was never charged with a drug offense, but has been charged with two counts of grand theft and is accused of embezzling $60,000 in collection money from the two parishes.

Piroli's attorney, Richard J. Beada, argued that prosecutors lacked evidence to prove the money from Piroli's bank accounts was ill-gotten.

Beada also gave an explanation as to how Piroli could afford to save tens of thousands of dollars on his relatively small monthly salary. He said Piroli had few expenses, living in church-owned housing and driving a church-owned car. Further, he said, Piroli received stipends for performing church services such as weddings.

Superior Court Judge Allan L. Steele, however, was unswayed and refused to order the confiscated money released from police custody pending the outcome of the trial.

Steele said once the trial is concluded, the court would be in a better position to determine who had the best claim to the money.

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