Crime: How Not To Murder Your Wife

What with a money-stealing hit man, a botched shooting and his nosy receptionist, the Bala Cynwyd chiropractor awaiting trial in a Montco jail just couldn’t get a break

That’s the word that comes to mind when one thinks about Bala Cynwyd. Despite its proximity to fume-choked City Avenue, Bala is quaintly village-like, an old Main Line town with a benign, leafy quality. The very name conjures up brunch at Hymie’s, with its intimidating but fantastic uniformed waitresses. There’s the Riverside gym down by the Schuylkill, where you can work off the Hymie’s pastrami on rye. There are art films at the Bala movie theater, and there are the Wakim brothers over at Al Dar, and all the good clothes and makeup at Saks. And all less than 10 minutes to downtown.

So easy a place to live is Bala that it seems Alan Kushner wasn’t able to leave it when he and his wife separated. You might guess that a therapist would have advised him to get a little distance — he could have moved to Rittenhouse Square, say, or Bryn Mawr, or even just to Ardmore. But he chose to move a five-minute walk from his former house.

Anyhow, whether or not he had anything to do with his wife’s shooting, other allegations by police make him a less than sympathetic figure. Take the allegation in a police affidavit that last September, four months after Sari was shot, receptionist Hawkins heard Kushner offer another patient $2,000 to kill his wife. And then there’s Kushner patient Craig Lowman, who told police last fall that he knew of another person Kushner had approached about the killing — making five potential hit men.


That’s the main thing on Kushner’s mind these days — at least, one hopes that’s what he’s thinking about — as he sits in jail in Norristown. As many things as Kushner allegedly did wrong over the past few years, he did do one smart thing last fall: He hired seasoned defense attorney Frank DeSimone, who handled the cases of Craig Rabinowitz and Rafael Robb, to represent him. Too many hit men — that was where DeSimone appeared to be heading with his defense in December’s preliminary hearing. Why would Kushner try to hire so many people to kill his wife? It couldn’t be true.

Deputy D.A. Tom McGoldrick and D.A. Risa Vetri Ferman are determined to keep the chiropractor in jail until trial, while DeSimone hopes to have him out by late winter. At one point in late December, bail conditions were granted, but the D.A.’s office appealed on the grounds that Sari would be in mortal danger. “The bail was a million dollars, and there were a number of conditions,” says attorney DeSimone. “One was psychological counseling, one was home monitoring, and that [Sari Kushner] could pay for private security out of the marital assets.” Once again, though, things didn’t go Kushner’s way — the matter remains unresolved, with Kushner in Montgomery County jail. Still, DeSimone is hopeful. “He’s presumed innocent,” he says of his client. “The million dollars he can post.”

So was Dr. Kushner merely an overly emotional kvetcher who handled his divorce angst by “joking” about killing his wife and wanting her to get hit by a truck? Could the shooting have been a horrible coincidence? It’s likely his attorney will argue that anyone could have wandered up and shot Sari Kushner. And it’s true that guys like Weldon Gary don’t make the best witnesses. (In fact, the D.A.’s office couldn’t find the erstwhile assassin for the December preliminary hearing.) But if Kushner does get out of jail, one guesses that friends, family and his attorney might have a suggestion for him: Shut the fuck up.