The state police probe of the Rev. Mauro Cautela has ended with his death over the weekend.
"I can't charge a dead person," Trooper Janice Wilson, investigating officer, said. "There's no one to go to trial with."
Cautela, former pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish in Ellwood City, died Dec. 10 after suffering a massive heart attack, according to his uncle, Orlando Falcione.
The crime unit of the New Castle state police station has been investigating Cautela since being called in by Lawrence County District Attorney Matthew T. Mangino.
The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh had received a complaint Aug. 17 and, after reviewing the matter for a week, referred it to Mangino's office.
On Aug. 24, the diocese placed Cautela, 57, on administrative leave from his position as pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish. At the time, the diocese cited serious allegations of improprieties, but would not specify what they were. Published reports have subsequently said the allegations appeared to be both sexual and financial in nature.
"While he can't be tried in a court of common pleas," Wilson said, "he will answer to a higher court."
After being placed on administrative leave, Cautela resigned from Holy Redeemer, where he had been the pastor since 1992. He also had served as dean of the Lawrence County Deanery, which includes all parishes in the county.
While on leave from public ministry, Cautela was not permitted to celebrate the sacraments in public. This is considered routine procedure following allegations against priests pending church or civil investigations.
The Rev. Ron Lengwin, spokesman for the diocese, said the church was not investigating the matter and had been waiting for civil authorities to determine whether charges would be filed.