PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A police corruption trial in Philadelphia is far from over, but already one trial witness has been handed a losing verdict.
Witness Robert Kushner lost his varsity coaching job at a private academy after testifying this week about his years selling marijuana.
Kushner, 32, is one of more than a dozen former drug dealers testifying for the federal government about allegations of police wrongdoing. He told jurors Tuesday that some of the undercover officers on trial had stolen $81,000 in cash and 7 pounds of marijuana from him during a 2007 arrest.
That history came as news to officials at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in suburban Bryn Mawr.
Kushner had passed a background check when he was hired to coach basketball in 2010, head of school Sharon Levin told The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/1P1KcGx).
Kushner testified that the 2007 charges were expunged as part of a probationary sentence. On cross-examination, he acknowledged that he was arrested again in 2011 and sentenced to four years of probation. He also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2008.
Kushner told the newspaper that he never meant to deceive the school, where he worked as a seasonal employee. And he believes he is innocent of the 2011 charges.
"All of the stuff that happened in 2007, that was eight years ago and was a bad phase of my life that I've moved past and never really looked back," Kushner said Wednesday. "I'm very sorry, and I want the best for the kids."
He also coaches in a Narberth summer league, where director Dan Kazanicka described him as an excellent coach who is good with kids.
Lawyers for the six former drug squad officers accused of racketeering have said the government case is based on 19 lying drug dealers and a rogue ex-cop.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com