By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
During his Dec. 9 swearing-in ceremony, Orange Unified School District (OUSD) trustee Steve Rocco promised to unveil the evil "Partnership" he claims holds sway over the district's schoolchildren. "We're living in a time of secret organizations, corruption and, most of all, dictatorship," Rocco warned.
In a Feb. 18 press conference, Rocco promised to identify members of the Partnership. That never happened. Instead, he accused Albertsons supermarket of attempting to murder him during a traffic altercation 20 years ago (see "Albertsons Wants Me Dead," Feb. 25) before abruptly calling the conference to a halt.
"I'll leave you hanging there," Rocco said. "Next time, I'll go into the Partnership."
At an April 5, exclusive-to-the-Weekly "press conference" at the Santa Ana offices of his lawyer, Fernando Leone, Rocco kept his word. He wasted no time in naming names.
"Everybody is calling me the 'Mystery Man,'" Rocco said, referring to countless headlines in newspapers around the nation that covered his bizarre, no-appearances campaign for school board last fall. "But I'm not the only mystery man. There are others. I want to talk about Mark McCain."
Mark McCain, Rocco revealed, is the most important member of the Partnership—the Albertsons sales manager who apprehended him outside a Santa Ana supermarket in July 1980, the day of Rocco's arrest for shoplifting a SmokeCraft sausage and several rolls of Kodak film.
"In my case, he manufactured evidence against me," Rocco claimed.
As proof of this conspiracy, Rocco provided the Weeklywith notes made by his attorney during preparations for his 1981 trial. Those notes discuss his lawyer's meeting with McCain as well as a Kodak Film Co. representative named Tom Bates. Rocco's attorney's notes say Bates claimed that the expiration dates of the film suggested they could have been on the shelves the day of his arrest—thus making it possible Rocco stole them.
While Bates' statement seems to bolster the case against him, Rocco sees a darker motive. He provided the Weeklywith a copy of McCain's Sept. 4, 1984, marriage license, which he obtained from the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana. One of McCain's witnesses, who signed the license, was a certain "Bob Bates."
Are the surnames a coincidence? No chance, says Rocco, who believes Bob Bates is actually Thomas Bates of Kodak Co., although the two men have different first names and dissimilar penmanship.
Rocco also produced a June 24, 1983, letter on SmokeCraft stationery from a company representative named Brian Faligowski who told Rocco that sausages with Sept. 25, 1982, expiration dates weren't packaged until Sept. 25, 1980—months after Rocco's shoplifting arrest.
If that doesn't prove a conspiracy, Rocco says, consider the following fact: McCain's father is none other than Warren E. McCain, who at the time was CEO of the entire Albertsons chain of supermarkets. Rocco says he didn't know McCain's family ties until after his trial had ended.
Neither Mark McCain nor his father could be reached for comment about the anti-Rocco conspiracy because both men are dead. Rocco provided the Weeklywith a copy of the IdahoStatesmanobituary for McCain the younger, who perished Nov. 16, 1995, at his home in Denver, Colorado. Although the obituary provides no details regarding his death, Rocco somehow managed to obtain a toxicology report that states McCain had seven needle fragments in his neck upon death and "died of combined alcohol, cocaine and heroin toxicity."
"If you want to talk about the mystery man, it's him," Rocco argued. "I mean, talk about Andy Kaufman—who is this guy? The problem is [McCain] was a weekend junkie and [my arrest] was on a Sunday—July 20, 1980. So he was high."
What any of this has to do with educating Orange schoolchildren remains a mystery. But perhaps the most bizarre piece of "evidence" regarding Rocco's perceived conspiracy is a 1981 OrangeCountyRegisterarticle by Orman Day, who served as jury foreman in Rocco's trial. Although the article doesn't mention Rocco by name, it details how members of his jury couldn't agree on the guilt of a man accused of stealing beef snacks and camera film.
Rocco says Day is part of the conspiracy against him. "He stabbed [me] in the back and protected Mark McCain," Rocco said. "If I'm the mystery man, then I'm not the only one. The real mystery is why didn't the district attorney or the Registertell me that McCain was the CEO's son."
As Day reported in his article, Rocco's trial ended in a hung jury. When Rocco waived his right to a second jury trial, a judge convicted him of petty theft. But then again, as anyone who read the Weekly's Jan. 28 Rocco Files already knows, that judge, Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann, is just another key player in—you guessed it—the Partnership.