Ocean City Today

Former teacher to serve 30 days for theft

Rorke swapped barcodes for expensive items with ones for cheaper products
By Katie Tabeling | Jun 29, 2017

(June 30, 2017) Former Buckingham Elementary School teacher Dr. Steve Rorke will serve 30 days of a four-year jail sentence for 16 counts of theft, after being convicted of stealing from the Berlin Wal-Mart over an unknown period of time.

Judge Brian Shockley of Snow Hill Circuit Court had suspended most of the sentence last week. He also banned Rorke from that Wal-Mart and ordered him to pay $500 in restitution. That amount was agreed upon by his defense attorney, Michael Farlow, and Deputy State’s Attorney Bill McDermott.

“The Wal-Mart manager testified that he saw Mr. Rorke at least a year in advance, but since the [surveillance] videos only go back for three months, that’s what we know,” McDermott told the court last Friday. “The videos had a less than desirable quality, so the restitution reflects what could be proved.”

Rorke was charged with several counts of theft less than $100 and theft under $10,000 in September. He was acquitted of the felony charge by Shockley during his trial on April 11.

McDermott said that for a series of months, Rorke picked items off Wal-Mart’s shelves and fixed barcodes for items of lesser value on them before using the self-checkout. In one case, Rorke taped a barcode for Swedish Fish on the back of an item before scanning it.

“This case has a bizarrely scary premeditation compared to other theft cases,” McDermott said. “He often disguised himself as an upstanding citizen, dressed nicely and wearing a Board of Education badge. By the time he was caught, he wasn’t even bothering fixing them on the items. He was just scanning the barcodes.”

Farlow sought probation before judgment for Rorke, and said that he was suffering from a medical condition that led to impaired judgment during the incidents.

“He was suffering after altering his medication and there’s no way to test his condition,” Farlow said. “Certainly, his past record shows that he is a pillar of the community and this was an anomaly in his life.”

Rorke used his time to speak to explain his symptoms.

“I believe I have anxiety disproportionate to certain events and memory lapses … little by little, the fog is lifting and sometimes I can see through the clouds.”

McDermott argued that Rorke had not shown remorse for his crimes, even when he was on trial two months ago.

“When he was caught at Wal-Mart, the barcodes fell out of his pocket, and he blamed the manager for putting them there to frame him,” he said. When he testified at trial, he blamed it on a lesson plan he was teaching his students on ‘cracking the code.’

“I’ve seen people steal for need and addiction,” McDermott added. “I’ve never seen someone steal for fun … I think he thought he was smarter than Wal-Mart. There’s been no remorse or responsibility.”

In addition to spending a month in jail, Rorke was ordered to be evaluated by a mental health professional and to complete 200 hours of community service. Rorke was also sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation.



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