The private detective hired by Bill Clinton in 1992 to quell rumors of his extramarital affairs, and by Harvey Weinstein in 2017 to stop his victims from speaking out, is on life support and not expected to survive after being injured in a robbery on Thursday.
Jack Palladino, 70, had just left his San Francisco home to take photographs in his neighborhood when a car pulled up and attempted to pull his expensive camera from around his neck, according to passersby.
Palladino fell in the struggle and suffered a ‘traumatic head injury’.
His stepson Nick Chapman told the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s ‘not expected to survive’ after undergoing surgery to stop the bleeding.
The private detective and lawyer had worked for a long list of high-profile names over a decades-long career, which began in 1974 when he was hired by the family of Patty Hearst to assist with her kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army.
As well as Clinton and Weinstein, Palladino also worked for Kevin Costner, Robin Williams, Huey Newton, Snoop Dogg, John DeLorean, Courtney Love, Hells Angels leader Sonny Barger, and a 14-year-old boy who won a multimillion-dollar civil settlement against Michael Jackson for alleged molestation, among others.
Chapman says that before his injury in the robbery, his stepfather was just wrapping one final case after deciding to retire this year.
Famed private detective Jack Palladino is on life support after suffering a ‘traumatic head injury’ during a robbery outside of his San Francisco home on Thursday evening
Harvey Weinstein and Bill Clinton were among Palladino’s most high-profile clients
Palladino had stepped out of his home in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood – from where he and his wife Sandra Sutherland ran their private investigators business – when a car sped toward him.
Witness Parisha Pak told the Chronicle that she heard a thud and saw Palladino being dragged toward the car.
‘He was in bad shape,’ she said. ‘He was bleeding from his head and nose.’
‘He had just stepped out front,’ added Chapman, who also worked as a detective in the family business. ‘The front door wasn’t even fully closed.’
Born into working class family in Boston in 1950, Palldino graduated from Cornell in 1967.
He met his wife Sutherland in 1972 as he investigated alleged prisoner abuses at a New York prison at the request of the Long Island district attorney.
Palladino first moved to the Bay Area in the 70s to attend UC Berkeley’s law school, where he and his wife set up the detective business Palladino & Sutherland in 1978.
After working with the Hearst family, the pair quickly found themselves more high-profile cases, leading to a career of private investigation that spanned across five decades.
Among Palladino’s most famous cases was the seven years he spent investigating to the 1978 mass suicide of more than 900 members of the Peoples Temple religious cult, otherwise known as the Jonestown massacre.
Palladino set up his business with his wife in 1978. He is pictured here in 1975
He also aided in the acquittal of car designer John DeLorean, who invented the flashy sports car.
In the 1980s, DeLorean was on trial for cocaine trafficking charges, as part of a scheme which he was allegedly using to find his company.
Yet the jury acquitted him of the charges after 200 witness interviews from Palladino.
In the 90s, he worked in the defense of whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigan, who was fighting against Big Tobacco in a lawsuit accusing them of manipulations designed to increase smoker addiction.
Palladino was tasked with protecting Wigan’s credibility as an expert witness in the lawsuit, to counter an investigation being run by the tobacco industry to bring him down.
The case resulted in a $200billion settlement and was the first successful courtroom win against the industry.
The case was later showcased in the 1999 movie The Insider in which Palladino played himself.
Also in the 90s, Palladino worked on the sensational murder case involving San Francisco porn king brothers Jim and Artie Mitchell.
And in 1994, he was hired by Courtney Love to talk to journalists investigating whether she played a role in her husband Kurt Cobain’s death.
R .Kelly was also acquitted on charges of videotaping himself having sex with an underage teenage girl in 2002 after Palladino’s testimony at trial in which he challenged the main prosecution witness.
Palladino spent seven years he spent investigating to the 1978 mass suicide of more than 900 members of the Peoples Temple religious cult. Pictured, cult leader Jim Jones
Courtney Love, pictured above in 2019, hired Palladino in 1994 to talk to journalists investigating whether she played a role in her husband Kurt Cobain’s death
Yet he is best known for being hired by Clinton in the early 90s to push back on claims that he was guilty of extra-marital affairs.
The Clinton presidential election committee had launched a damage control inquiry against what they claimed was a smear campaign being used to deny Clinton the Democratic nomination.
They paid Palladino tens of thousands of dollars to investigate two dozen women over several years.
One of his most recent high-profile clients was Weinstein, who had engaged an ‘army of spies’ to keep tabs on victims and journalists investigating the story to keep them quiet.
Ronan Farrow had previously identified himself as one of the journalists followed by Palladino’s firm, alongside New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Towhey; and Weinstein accusers Rosanna Arquette and Annabella Sciorra.
According to a profile in the San Francisco Examiner, Palladino ‘built a reputation for aggressive investigations, an in-your-face style and the ability to neutralize adverse witnesses and spin hostile media’.
His stepson said Palladino wore flashy suits but was a ‘real human’ at home
Palladino had a career as a private investigator over five decades
‘I’m not a self-effacing individual,’ Palladino said at the time.
‘I am a driven, arrogant person who holds himself and everyone around him to incredibly high standards. I’m very difficult in private life. I don’t live for anything but this.’
In a profile with People when they first set up their business, Palladino admitted, ‘I get to people by being brash,’ but claimed Sutherland ‘finds the grace in them and somehow pulls things out’.
Chapman told the Examiner Friday that Palladino wore flashy suits and had cultivated the persona of a brash private detective but that at home he was a ‘real human’.
Hells Angels Sonny Barger, pictured, was another of Palladino’s clients
‘He was a somewhat flamboyant character at times and could be very aggressive in defense of his clients,’ Chapman said.
‘The stuff I read mostly doesn’t capture the man I grew up with and who I worked for.’
Chapman also told the Chronicle that he believed his stepfather knew when to draw the line when it came to his clients.
‘We were not a firm interested in doing shady s*** for anybody,’ he said.
‘He was very passionate about justice, about democracy, about the First Amendment, about people being entitled to the best defense that they could get,’ he added to the Examiner.
‘And he was not blind to the limitations of our justice system.’
‘He was incredibly good at his job,’ claimed Chapman, who grew up surrounded by the business.
‘He and my mom at one point were the premier private investigators.’
He added that the family’s work and home life would sometimes overlap, and he remembers Hells Angels leader Sonny Barger, who also a client, driving him too school in a lemon-yellow limousine.
Chapman said that Palladino, who was already an avid photographer, was spending more time on the hobby as he wound down his cases.
San Francisco police said no suspect has been arrested in connection to Palladino’s robbery.
His family said on Friday that he remained on life support.