Judge Delays Trial of Priest in Theft Case

A Ventura County judge Monday granted the fourth continuance in the case of a Simi Valley Catholic priest charged with stealing $60,000 in collection money more than 15 months ago.

Father David Dean Piroli’s case was scheduled to begin trial on Monday.

But Superior Court Judge Allan Steele reset the matter for Jan. 10, agreeing that attorneys need extra time to sift through several boxes of bank records that were submitted to the court on Monday.

The records pertain to the finances of Sacred Heart Church in Saticoy and St. Peter Claver in Simi Valley, the two churches where Piroli had served as an assistant pastor.


Piroli is accused of stealing collection money from the churches.

Prosecutors first filed charges against Piroli Aug. 13, 1992, after the discovery of a large amount of money in his church-owned car and his bedroom following his drug arrest in Hollywood.

But in the 15 months since the criminal complaint was filed, requests for records in the case--mostly by the defense--have caused an unusual number of delays in the trial.

So far, there have been 23 pretrial court appearances. Officials say there are usually no more than a half dozen such hearings in most felony criminal matters.


But Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary C. Peace, who has fought many of the defense motions that caused some of the delays, said she agreed with the decision Monday to postpone Piroli’s trial another six weeks.

The documents turned over by Bank of America, Bank of A. Levy and Simi Valley Bank on Monday will require an extensive review, she said.