Saturday, April 18, 2009
School official convicted of Ketchup theft
A California school official has been convicted of petty theft after stealing a half bottle of ketchup.
Steve Rocco, an ex-Orange Unified School District trustee was convicted of misdemeanor petty theft for taking the bottle of ketchup from Chapman University last September.
The jury's vote was unanimous.
Rocco, who became known for railing about conspiracies against him by a group he called the Partnership during his single term on the school board,
testified that he was set up by political enemies.
He insisted that witnesses against him, including campus police officers, lied.
In earlier court papers, he told police he took the bottle to simply recycle it. But jurors didn't think that explanation cut the mustard. (Sorry!)
Deputy Public Defender Erica Gambale said Rocco picked up the bottle of
ketchup which was left out at an outdoor eating area on campus. She argued that its worth was "zero dollars and zero cents," which meant no crime was committed because nothing of real value was stolen.
Prosecutors can now slap Rocco's Hein-z (ouch!) behind bars for six months, but they said he most likely would face a small fine and probation. (And, no doubt, a restraining order against using any more condiments.)
Susan Schroeder of the Orange County District Attorney's Office said previously that she also expected prosecutors to seek an order barring Rocco from the Chapman campus.
During the trial, there were various estimates of the worth of the ketchup, with school officials reporting that they pay $1.20 per bottle.
There was also dispute as to how much ketchup was actually left inside the bottle, with one campus officer saying the bottle was three-quarters full. There was also some indication that the bottle had to be shaken in order to detect some liquid inside.
Really, was it worth the tax dollars that go into a jury trial for Ketchup? Ketchup? Both of those lawyers and the judge should get pelted with ketchup after that waste of time.