Good Citizen Pays High Price
by Ralph Craib

 

An armed but frightened man recited yesterday the harrowing personal price he has paid since serving as a police informer.

His business is dead; he has been ambushed and shot, and his wife and two children live in constant fear and almost continuously on the move, said one-time San Quentin Guard Robert Worthington.

Worthington provided police with their first tip of the impending burglary of the home of Sally Stanford at 2324 Pacific Avenue in April of last year. Police Officer Salvatore Polani and three others were later convicted after falling into a trap which Worthington, then a Point Reyes contractor, helped set.

He has filed a claim for $150,000 for personal injury and business loss under the 13-month-old California "Good Samaritan" law. The law provides that the State "may" make compensation to those injured personally or financially because of assistance to police.

Two armed San Francisco plain-clothesmen sat at the back of a little hearing room in the State Building as Worthington appeared before State Hearing Officer, Harold Furst. His attorneys, Richard Gladstein and Lewis Yapp, presented but two witnesses, Worthington and the psychiatrist who has treated him, Dr. Edwin Plank Brennan.

"I was not to be brought into the case at all," Worthington said. "But something went wrong."

Once his identity was revealed, he said, police were immediately assigned to guard him, his wife, and his daughter, 13, and son, 11. But his business began falling apart.

He couldn’t go out to a lot to inspect a prospective building site, he said, until police had checked out the person he was to meet. He had to have his telephone disconnected because of ominous calls received by his wife.

He has moved his family home five times and has had to send his family out of town on several occasions when police warned him that there was danger. Two cars he owned have been repossessed. Three homes which he had built and in which he had substantial investment have been foreclosed.

"On a couple of occasions, I was followed by strange cars," Worthington said. "One night I was followed by a car without lights and went up to 100 miles an hour. At night time you can’t see back and the only thing to do is run."

Worthington was provided a gun by police — and used it once. He was ambushed on Lucas Valley Road in Marin County, September 5, 1966, and grazed by a bullet. He fired two shots back at his attackers. "I have a preoccupation with death; I don’t know when, I don’t know who — but it is out there."

Gladstein and Yapp believe that Worthington’s suffering is worth $150,000 in damages. He has suffered $96,064 in property loss and business loss, the lawyers said.

Worthington said that his claim would enable him to move "maybe away from this continent" to start a new life for his family.

 

Originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, 11/4/66

   
 

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