A Main Line prep-school basketball coach has been fired after the school learned he sold thousands of dollars of marijuana for years.
Robert Kushner, the former varsity boys' basketball coach at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr, was terminated Wednesday after the school learned about his history of drug dealing as it played out centerstage in a prominent federal trial against six Philadelphia narcotics officers.
Kushner, 32, provided testimony Tuesday against the officers, alleging they stole $81,000 and seven pounds of marijuana from him in 2007 while attempting to crack down on his drug dealing.
The officers are accused of a racketeering conspiracy in which they allegedly stole drugs and money from drug-dealing suspects before downplaying their takes.
The testimony largely focused on Kushner's 2007 run-in with police, for which he received a probationary sentence that ended with charges being expunged from his record.
But the defense also questioned a later arrest, in 2011, in which Kushner pleaded guilty to possession of drugs with the intent to deliver. He was placed on probation for four years.
The school said Wednesday that it knew nothing about Kushner's drug dealing and that he passed a background check conducted when he was hired in 2010. He was never checked again, said Sharon Levin, head of school at Barrack Academy.
Kushner said he never informed Barrack Academy of the 2011 charges because it was "more complicated than what it seems." He said he never meant to deceive the school.
The case calls into question who bears the responsibility of alerting school officials when an employee who regularly interacts with children is convicted of a crime.
The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday that it does not alert schools or employers of arrests or convictions. Kushner said he does not know if he was required by his employment contract to report his guilty plea. The school did not respond to subsequent requests for comment.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education did not respond to requests for information on how often background checks are required for K-12 private schools.
Kushner was a seasonal employee with the school, meaning he worked only from November to February, during the basketball season.
"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. As for the 2011 charges, he said he believes he is innocent.
"I'm very sorry, and I want the best for the kids," Kushner said.
In 2008, Kushner also pleaded guilty to charges of driving under the influence.
In addition to coaching at Barrack Academy, Kushner also serves as head coach - a volunteer position - for the junior varsity team at the Narberth Boys' Basketball League, a summer recreational league.
Dan Kazanicka, director of the league, said he has always known Kushner as an excellent coach who was good with kids. He never conducted a background check on Kushner or any of the league volunteers.
In 2008, Kazanicka said he received an anonymous call from someone who told him to "be careful of Rob Kushner."
Kazanicka said he did not take the call seriously.