SAN FRANCISCO – Jack Palladino, the private investigator who worked on high profile cases ranging from the mass suicides in Jonestown to celebrity and political scandals, was put on life support after sustaining a head injury in an attempted robbery.
Palladino, 70, had just stepped out of his San Francisco home to try out his new camera on Thursday when a car pulled up and a man got out to snatch it, police and the detective’s stepson Nick Chapman announced San Francisco Chronicle with.
When the suspect grabbed the camera, Palladino fell and hit his head on the sidewalk, causing a traumatic head injury. Chapman said Palladino would not survive after undergoing surgery to stop the massive bleeding.
No suspects were arrested, according to police.
Palladino was finishing one last case before retiring to his wife and work partner, Sandra Sutherland. Since the 1980s, the two of them have been conducting investigations on behalf of the famous and powerful, as well as the underdogs, from their Victorian home in Haight-Ashbury.
These included Bill Clinton, whose presidential campaign in 1992 hired Palladino to quell rumors of his extramarital affairs, and Courtney Love, whom Palladino hired to speak to journalists investigating whether she played a role in the 1994 death of her husband, rock star Kurt Cobain, played.
Other clients included John DeLorean, the auto tycoon who was acquitted of cocaine trafficking charges, and a 14-year-old boy who won a multi-million dollar civil settlement against Michael Jackson for alleged abuse.
In the 1990s, he led a counter-investigation into the tobacco industry’s campaign to slander whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand. Palladino’s work protected Wigand’s credibility as an expert witness in a lawsuit that resulted in a $ 200 billion settlement, the first successful court win against Big Tobacco. He would play himself in the movie “The Insider” about the Wigand story.
Palladino’s career began even before he graduated from UC Berkeley law school when Patty Hearst’s family hired him to help investigate her abduction by the Symbionese Liberation Party in 1974. He then went on to work on behalf of clients involved in radical politics and counterculture, including Black Panther leader Huey Newton, the Hells Angels, and Larry Layton, who survived the mass suicide of more than 900 People’s Temple members in 1978.
Palladino spent seven years interviewing surviving members of the religious cult and their families.