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Mark Anthony Rogowski
California Men’s Colony
P.O. Box 1801
San Luis Obispo, CA 93409-8101
EXTRA GATOR INFO:
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Mark Anthony Rogowski
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THE SKATEBOARDING GATOR SAGA – A BRIEF REVIEW
Mark Anthony Rogowski was born in Brooklyn, NY, but moved to Enconido, California at the young age of 3 years old after the messy divorce of his parents. Mark “Gator” Rogowski was a gifted athlete, playing many organized sports, shinning most on little league baseball teams. Rogowski started to ride a skateboard at age seven loving the solitude and independence of what was considered an art form rather than a sport. Rogowski was ten years old when he begin to hang out at skate parks every day. After two years of skating local parks and competing in local amateur skatepark contests, Mark was picked up by a local skateboard shop team in 1978, at age 12 years old and flourished as an aggressive style skater from there.
Mark Rogowski was one of the few elite skaterboarders who enjoyed the “rock star” status in the 1980s, alongside with such legends as Christian Hosoi, Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain and Steve Caballero, Neil Blender, Chris Miller, Allen Losi, Mike McGill and Billy Ruff, to name a few at the top. He was a very charismatic, flamboyant skater, who was smooth and steady in all his fast lines and consistent with his bag of trick, while landing his attempts under pressure in a contest setting. Gator began adding to his popular style and all out aggression, by assaulting every contest he entered nation wide, week after week and the fans loved him. Gator was instantly famous world wide and with good sponsorship’s, he cashed in on professional skating’s fortune during skateboarding’s growth and popularity with the advent of “vertical ramp, pool and bowl skating in the late 1970s and thru the 1980s. The young skateboard star “Gator”, overnight became skateboarding’s highest gross paid pro skateboarder, with thousands of Vision products selling each month, making somewhere in the range of $15 to $25 thousand dollars monthly, just from his signature skateboard deck sales alone. He was the sports shining star with enormous fanfare and high skate product sales landing him in southern California’s wealthiest athletic spotlight and the night life after the sessions became too tempting and addictive for this young extreme sports super star, soon after drugs, alcohol and easy woman lead this young skater into a dark side of the popular California night life.
Rogowski’s popularity began to lesson as a leading pro vertical skateboarder of the 1980s, that began to give way to major sport and industry changes with the dawning of street skating of the 1990s. The Vision Skateboards company that Gator had spent the majority of his career with, had filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy immediately. Looking to reinvent himself, he changed his name to “Mark Anthony”, explaining that “Rogowski” was the name of his father whom he had never really known. Arguably, this also contributed to his career downfall, since many of skateboarding’s fans began to view him as washed up and just a sell-out among his peers. After a severe accident in West Germany where Mark “Gator” Rogowski fell from a hotel window late one night and landed on a fence. Mark Rogowski then returned home to Carlsbad California to recover from the serious injuries suffered. After some down time at home, Gator then befriended Augie Constantino, a well known ex-pro surfer who had turned to his ministry as a teaching born-again Christian, who shortly after their new close friendship, became Mark’s “spiritual advisor” and a dear close friend.
After a short turbulent relationship with then girlfriend Brandi McClain, she left him in pursuit of schooling and a bright future with a career, Rogowski became obsessively jealous and acting out desperately by breaking into her home to steal the things he had given her and calling her new boyfriend’s home with threats.. She reported him to the police, who filed a report, but did little to follow up, giving in to short make up sex and other intimate favors.
On March 20, 1991, Rogowski received a call from 22 year old Jessica Bergsten, whom he had not spoken to in many years. She had recently moved to California and didn’t have many friends yet. Ironically, Bergsten, was a friend of Gator’s ex-girlfriend Brandi McClain. Jessica called on Mark asking him to show her around the San Diego area. They spent a day together, on March 21, 1991, shortly after Jessica Bergsten was reported missing by family. According to Mark Rogowski, he and Jessica Bergsten went back to his condo to watch movies and drink wine together. He admitted to coming up behind her and hitting her on the head with a metal anti-theft device, used as a club. After knocking her semi-unconscious by way of several strikes to her head, he handcuffed her and dragged her to his bedroom on the second floor and raped her while shackled to his bed. Afterward, he placed her in a surfboard bag because he was concerned about the neighbors hearing the noise. He placed his hand over her mouth until she stopped breathing. He then drove out to the Shell Canyon desert to bury her body in a shallow grave near the shoulder of the road.
A few weeks later her body was found but it was unable to be identified. Plagued by guilt, Rogowski confessed what he had done to his minister and friend, Constantino. He put it so, “Hey, Remember that hot girl from the poster I had? She was the one I killed,” Rogowski admitted. Constantino encouraged him to confess his crime to the police – which Rogowski did, waiving his legal rights. Bergsten’s body was found by campers on April 10, 1991 but had been so badly decomposed that it could not be identified. Rogowski turned himself in on April 11, 1991 and led the police to the burial site of Bergsten. The police searched his home and found evidence of blood, which had soaked through the carpet padding and into the floorboards in two small spots, adjacent to where Bergsten’s head had allegedly rested. In his confession, Rogowski conveyed that he had killed Bergsten in a misplaced act of revenge towards McClain, calling Bergsten the “mold Brandi was made out of.” Upon entering prison, he was diagnosed with a severe case of bipolar disorder, but with no insanity charges to help his case.
Rogowski was charged with “special circumstances,” committing a murder during rape. Under California law, this warrants the death penalty or life imprisonment without possibility of parole. His public defender lawyer, John Jimenez, challenged the validity and content of the confession. Jimenez appealed the rape charge, insisting that the decomposed body showed no signs of forcible rape, which was eventually thrown out.
At the advice of his attorney, Rogowski pleaded guilty to first degree murder and rape, thus avoiding the death penalty or life without chance of parole. In January 1992, at the plea hearing, Gator submitted a four-page written statement. He accepted responsibility for his acts but also blamed himself for having sex outside of marriage, his promiscuity, and for not following the word of the Bible.
Mark “Gator” Rogowski was sentenced on March 6, 1992. Five uniformed bailiffs with metal detectors were at the hearing due to a rumor that Stephen Bergsten (the father of the victim) would attempt to harm Rogowski by taking his life. Bergsten had lost two properties due to his involvement with a nationwide drug ring, and there was speculation that Bergsten had nothing to lose by harming Rogowski. With the bailiffs standing between Rogowski and Bergsten, Rogowski offered an apology while Bergsten shouted back that he “was a coward” and that he would “die a thousand deaths”.
Rogowski received a 31-year prison sentence; six years for forcible rape and twenty-five years to life for the first-degree murder charges to be served consecutively. This would put Gators release from prison in the soon to be here year of, 2033. Gator will avoid any media attention and the skateboard industry will never welcome even an interview with this convicted rapist and murderer.
Rogowski was denied parole on February 7, 2011. Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs argued that Rogowski remained an “unreasonable risk to society” and should remain imprisoned, and a family member of Jessica Bergsten attended the hearing asking that Rogowski remain incarcerated to date.