Vanderberg, who eventually withdrew from the competition, said the sponsor started harassing her on her second day in the country. She said the sponsor got her mobile number without her consent and kept calling her to ask for her hotel and room number. But it didn't stop there.
He clutched his neck, spurting blood. The half-hour struggle with his cellmate was over. He had finally reached the guard station after the intercoms failed. His cellmate, serving time for burning another prison, sliced his neck from ear to ear because of a rumor. An old white foreign guy: While Lewandowski is guilty of many things, that rumor was not true.
Lewandowski is not your ordinary prisoner by any stretch of the imagination. The group toured internationally, and Jan dreamed of a life in America. His next stop was Niagara Falls where a compassionate hotel manager allowed him to work while he created a new life for himself.
Instead he worked around the clock: Fluent in Polish, English, Russian and German, Lewandowski was not content to take a slow ride to regional popularity. Traveling across the Canadian Pacific Chain Hotels, he was invited to a sleepy area of Pennsylvania to raise money for a cancer telethon.
Lewandowski became fond of the polka music Sturr played.
The American polka was not the music he remembered from Poland but it was marketable, and he liked that. Soon he was branching out and developing his own orchestra. While in Poland Lewandowski would buy souvenirs at Soviet era prices, just as factories were liquidating due to the thaw and expected fall of Communism.
Back in Hazleton he built a store where he sold the items at market value, turning incredible profits. He stockpiled the merchandise intenting to sell it over his lifetime.
Dreams and reality seemed to mesh: Of course, if you ever want to make God laugh — just tell her about your plans. Rhonda won the pageant — until a review revealed voter tampering. People began to lose trust in their Polka King. I needed her in the business.
Lewandowski, determined to make things right, started touring to make up the losses. Unfortunately more losses followed. On January 26, his tour bus wrecked en route to Florida for six shows. Two of his musicians were killed, he was injured and his son Daniel suffered critical injuries.
He cradled his son on the floor of the bus, holding his bloodied head, overwcome with guilt about taking him out of school to tour. Without a band to cover his promissory notes, he had to face the music. But investors would not wait for Lewandowski.
Rumors turned to panic about a crumbling empire. There were no more options for Lewandowski. His charm could no longer hold off the angry mob who wanted their money. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison for fleecing five million dollars out of investors in 22 states.
Since the very first day of his sentence Lewandowski started writing his autobiography. This would be an impossible goal for anyone less than Lewandowski and his indomitable spirit.
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