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Man accused of ketchup theft: Bottle was planted

April 15, 2009
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SANTA ANA, Calif.—An eccentric former school board trustee known for espousing conspiracy theories has taken the witness stand in his own defense in a petty theft trial involving a bottle of ketchup. Steve Rocco is accused of stealing the 14-ounce bottle from a dining area outside the cafeteria at Chapman University.

He testified Tuesday that authorities planted the ketchup near his bicycle on the campus last year to make it look like a theft when he was actually recycling the bottle.

Prosecutors said they tried to settle the case by getting Rocco to agree to stay away from the university. but he declined and insisted on a trial.

The former Orange Unified School District trustee is widely known in political circles for his railings against an alleged conspiracy of Orange County leaders he calls the "partnership" and the dark glasses and cap he wore to nighttime school board meetings.

Rocco could face up to six months in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor petty theft charge, though prosecutors say they would likely ask for probation.