VENTURA — Saying problems with their case are too severe to overcome, Ventura County prosecutors announced Friday that they will not seek to retry a Simi Valley priest accused of stealing more than $50,000 from his former parish.
Father David Dean Piroli smiled broadly after the announcement in Superior Court, but did not say whether he plans to seek reinstatement as a priest in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Piroli was acquitted March 18 of one count of embezzlement from Sacred Heart Church in Saticoy after a six-week trial. The jury deadlocked 9 to 3 in favor of acquittal on a felony grand theft charge related to an alleged theft from St. Peter Claver Church in Simi Valley.
Piroli has been under suspension as a priest since May, 1992, when police in Hollywood were called to roust loiterers outside a Sears Roebuck & Co. store and found the priest sitting in his church-owned car with a young Mexican national. Police reported that they found traces of cocaine and $10,000 in small bills in the car.
Church employees later found an additional $50,000 in Piroli's rooms at the rectory in Simi Valley, along with parishioners' donation checks and St. Peter Claver collection envelopes, some of them torn open, prosecutors said.
Judge Allan Steele indicated Friday that he would dismiss the charge May 6, when he rules on who receives the money found in Piroli's possession.
Even though prosecutors will not be retrying Piroli, they suggested in court papers that the church never allow him to hold a position of trust again.