Rocco reads.
Rocco reads.

Rocco Sentenced in College Ketchup Heist

The Partnership scored yet another victory today when Judge Jacki Brown of the Quentin Tarantino Justice Center sentenced former Orange school trustee Steve Rocco to two years of probation for his September 2008 theft of a non-refrigerated, half-empty bottle of ketchup at a Chapman University cafeteria. The spectacular arrest was Rocco's second run-in with the Partnership--the cabal made up of Albertsons, Kodak Corp. and Smokecraft Sausage that secretly controls Orange County government. The first was in 1980 when he was arrested for shoplifting several rolls of Kodak film and a sausage at a Santa Ana Albertsons supermarket.

The harsh sentence--which will prevent Rocco from picking up his favorite periodical, the campus newspaper The Panther, marks the end of Rocco's epically stupid trial for petty theft which began in April. In that trial, Rocco issued subpoenas to dozens of alleged witnesses to the event, including this writer, and submitted a rambling, typewritten brief that, among other things, asserted he was recycling the bottle, hypothesized that unrefrigerated ketchup is worthless and stipulated he has never used any condiments whatsoever.

As was revealed during the trial, Rocco was on campus that day trying to meet with Fred Smoller, a political science professor who produced a documentary critical of Rocco. Rocco subpoenaed Smoller to testify on his behalf, but he never called him to the stand. After a jury convicted Rocco of the theft, Rocco and his mysterious sidekick Evan Harris held a press conference to announce that Smoller had stashed two bottles of ketchup in his mailbox and, more ominously, Harris had overheard Smoller arranging to assassinate Rocco during a meeting with Chapman University president Jim Doti at the very cafeteria where Rocco allegedly purloined the ketchup bottle.

Earlier this month, Rocco sought to convince a judge to issue a restraining order against Smoller, who yet again had to take a break from his teaching to defend himself against his nemesis. "It was insane," Smoller recalls. "Evan Harris....took the stand and said he overheard Jim Doti and me plotting to kill Rocco while eating lunch at Argyros Forum. He also said I keep calling Rocco's  house, even though the phone number is unlisted, emailing Rocco, though he has no email, and visiting his home."

After Smoller explained that he hasn't eaten lunch with Doti in 27 years, the judge refused to grant the restraining order. However, as Smoller points out, all Rocco has to do is file another request for a restraining order and the whole process will start again, although perhaps the fact that Rocco has now been restrained from visiting Smoller on campus may diminish the likelihood of that happening. But then that would mean that logic had somehow infiltrated itself into this ridiculous saga. I, for one, am willing to bet that this particular Rocco Horror Picture Show won't be winding down anytime soon.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >