There may have been a reason Robert Kushner became a weed dealer. He wasn’t good with tools.
Kushner, 32, testified Tuesday against six former Philadelphia narcotics officers accused of robbing drug dealers. By his own admission, he was one of those dealers.
In October of 2007, Kushner was selling marijuana and quietly amassing a pile of cash in a safe he kept in his City Line Avenue apartment. He testified that he had tens of thousands of dollars in it.
There was only one problem: he says he did a crappy job bolting the safe to the floor.
Prosecutors allege that when the officers searched Kushner’s apartment, one of them, Officer Jeffrey Walker, physically removed the safe, walked it down 17 flights of stairs, and cleared out $80,000 in cash.
Kushner’s reputation as an incompetent handy man became a key point of contention as to his credibility as a witness Tuesday.
If the safe was bolted to the floor, defense attorneys wondered, how did police remove it from the apartment?
Defense attorney Jack McMahon, who is representing Reynolds, made much of the fact that Kushner had never mentioned to a grand jury that he did a poor job bolting the safe to the floor — hinting that this omission was proof that there was no safe.
Kushner, however, said it was just a simple error.
“They give you a set of tools to do it,” Kushner said, before explaining that the apartment building’s construction thwarted his effort. “There’s a layer of concrete. It didn’t go through.”
Kushner’s involvement with the police officers began when he was pulled over by Officers Brian Reynolds, Thomas Liciardello and Walker, according to court documents.
At the time, he was carrying $30,000 and half a pound of weed.
He said in court that he was driving a 2004 Hummer that, despite his lucrative drug business, was a gift from his parents.
He spent the night in jail, and while in custody, he says someone handed him a cell phone.
On the other end was Liciardello.
Kushner believes the former narcotics officer was taunting him from his own apartment.
“I had a picture of John Gotti on my wall,” Kushner said. “He said ‘You’re no John Gotti, buddy.’”
If he’s telling the truth, Kushner’s no handyman either.