He was a college-educated marijuana dealer with $80,000 stashed in a safe in his high-rise apartment and a framed picture of mob boss John Gotti hanging on the wall.
The cops, he said, stole the safe and seven pounds of marijuana he had in the apartment and then taunted him about the picture.
"You're not John Gotti, buddy," Robert Kushner said he was told in a cell phone conversation with Thomas Liciardello, a narcotics investigator who, authorities allege, was the leader of a rogue group of Philadelphia police officers who stole cash and drugs, intimidated drug dealers and falsified police reports to cover up their actions.
Kushner, the first witness called in the racketeering conspiracy trial of Liciardello and five fellow officers, took the witness stand in U.S. District Court this morning and told a jury that he had experienced all of that after being taken into custody, but not formally charged, on the night of Oct. 16, 2007.
A 26-count federal indictment alleges that Liciardello, co-defendant Brian Reynolds and a third police officer, Jeffrey Walker, took $30,000 in cash during a car stop of Kushner just off Ridge Avenue. They then placed him in a holding cell in the Fifth Police District and went to his apartment in the Executive House on City Avenue where, authorities say, they ransacked the 18th floor unit.