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Mob suspected in bookie's killing, October 22, 1958

October 22, 2008 |  7:01 am


1954_december_26_sports_infoClifford Rue was a man who was ahead of his time and behind on the payments to his bookie.

A former Marine who changed his name from Rubenstein for business purposes, Rue had been working at his father's liquor store when he persuaded some friends to join him in an unusual venture.

Rue was one of those men who couldn't get enough sports statistics. If he were alive today, he would probably be in a dozen fantasy leagues and spend all his time on a computer.

But in the 1950s, access to sports information was far more restricted. Rue badgered sportswriters and newspaper editors for updates until he wore out their patience. So in 1955 he persuaded some friends to come up with enough money to begin a free sports information service.

According to Time magazine, Rue's Sports Information Results hired 17 researchers to answer 18,000 sports questions a day. Queries included "What's the largest football score ever run up?"  or "What is the maximum speed of a duck?" To make a profit, the service sold ads that were played over the phone before callers got their answers.

After an initial success, the venture apparently went under. Rue began working at the Seville, a nightclub at 7969 Santa Monica Blvd., and operated a credit business called Trans-National Budget Plan. He and his wife were also doing some remodeling at a dress shop she planned to open at 12236 Ventura Blvd.

Along the way, Rue ran up gambling debts until he owed $4,200 ($29,803.65 USD 2007) to Morris "Goldie" Goldsworth, a bookie who split his time between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. But while he was losing money to Goldsworth, he had also won $700 from a wholesale jeweler named David Solomon.

On the afternoon of Oct. 16, 1958, Solomon visited Rue, who was at work doing some remodling at his wife's dress shop, and paid $200 on his debts.

Later that day, Goldsworth arrived at the Ventura Boulevard dress shop in what The Times described as a hardtopped convertible.

Police found his car four days later parked at 3809 Rhodes Ave. A neighbor complained that the convertible had been left in front of his house and in answering the call, Officer E.C. Hayes noticed that blood had dripped from the trunk onto the back bumper. While he was waiting for detectives to respond, Hayes removed the backseat and saw a body.

Morris Goldsworth, 52, had been shot and beaten in the head. His pockets were turned inside-out. All that police found on him were a white handkerchief and half a pack of cigarettes. Further investigation revealed dried flecks of paint on the body. Police Chief William H. Parker immediately announced that Goldsworth's death was a mob killing and turned the investigation over to Chief of Detectives Thad Brown.

In tracing Goldsworth's last movements, detectives interviewed Rue, 34, who told them that the bookie left the shop after being paid the $4,200 gambling debt.

1958_october_21_goldsworthUnder further questioning, Rue admitted killing Goldsworth. He said he offered the bookie $200, but that Goldsworth had drawn a gun and demanded the entire amount. Rue grabbed a hammer and hit Goldsworth, then took the bookie's gun and shot him with it. For good measure, Rue hit him with the hammer again.

Rue said he wrapped the body with dropcloths that some painters had left in the back of the dress shop and hauled it out to the car. He planned to dump the body in the desert but got lost on Rhodes, which is a dead-end street, and abandoned the car four blocks from the shop. He walked back to the shop, burned the dropcloths, and painted the floor red when he couldn't clean Goldsworth's blood off the concrete.

While he was being questioned, Rue pried a piece of metal molding from a desk and later that day he tried to kill himself by slashing his neck with it.

The next day, police took him back to the dress shop and filmed him as he reenacted the killing. Investigators searched the route from the dress shop to where the car was parked, but never found the gun. 

According to grand jury testimony, the bullets recovered from Goldsworth's body had no "land and groove" markings. LAPD ballistics expert Sgt. William Lee said the bullets must have been too small for the gun and were therefore fired "with insufficient force." Coroner's investigator Dr. Frederick Newbarr said Goldsworth died from the hammer blows and that the gunshot wounds were only superficial.

Rue was convicted of second-degree murder on Feb. 27, 1959. Although The Times didn't report the sentencing, he may have been released from prison. A 1972 Times story refers to a company called Credit Security Insurance, which was reorganized after the death of its former president, Clifford Rue. California death records say a man named Clifford Rue died July 24, 1972, at the age of 48. 

Despite Rue's confession, Police Chief Parker continued to see the Mafia's influence in Goldsworth's death and some websites include it in a list of mob killings.

Footnote: As of 1955, the biggest football score was 222-0 (Georgia Tech over Cumberland University, 1916). The maximum speed of a duck? It depends on the wind.