The Untold Truth Of Amish Mafia

The television series "Amish Mafia," which debuted on the Discovery Channel in 2012, is a reality show featuring an Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. As reported by IMDb, the residents periodically experience periods of discord and controversy within their community. However, they have had a long-standing distrust of outsiders — law enforcement officials, in particular. In an attempt to mediate disputes among the members of the community, they reportedly appointed a group of men to "protect and maintain peace and order" within the Lancaster, Pennsylvania Amish community (via IMDb).

"Amish Mafia" had mixed reviews and has become a point of heated controversy for its content, which has been criticized as strongly embellished and harmful to the reputation of Amish communities in general. Despite the controversy, the series had four seasons and 35 episodes between 2012 and 2015 and remained popular with many viewers.

The main star of the show is Levi King Stoltzfus, who goes by the nickname "Lebanon." Lebanon is the head of the so-called Lancaster Amish Aid syndicate. The series also features members of Lebanon's crew, including Alvin Stoltzfus Lantz and Jolin Zimmerman, as well as friends, family, and former members of the crew.

In addition to mediating internal disputes within the Amish community, Lebanon and his crew are reportedly dedicated to protecting the community from outsiders — who they refer to as the "English" — they believe seek to harm or cause trouble for members of the Amish community.

The cast of Amish Mafia is reportedly not Amish

One of the most obvious questions about "Amish Mafia" is how Discovery convinced the Amish to be filmed when it is clearly prohibited by the church. However, according to LancasterOnline, the cast of "Amish Mafia" is not actually Amish.

In an interview about the controversy, Laurie Goldberg, who is Discovery's vice president of public relations, said, "These are real people in the Amish and Mennonite communities." However, her description doesn't appear to be entirely accurate. Although Amish and Mennonite communities have many similarities, Mennonites have fewer rules and do not live the "simple" life the Amish adhere to. In addition to living within "English" communities, Mennonites are permitted to drive automobiles and use modern technology. According to Ohio's Amish Country, modern technology is discouraged or prohibited in most Amish communities.

Even those who are born into or continue to live within Amish communities are not considered truly Amish until they are baptized. Amish Country Gazebos reports that Amish youth are given a chance to explore the English world when they turn 16 during a period of time called rumspringa. After rumspringa, they are expected to decide whether to join the church.

According to Amish Country Gazebo, the cast of "Amish Mafia," who claim to be Amish, were never baptized. Esther Schmucker, in particular, is described by Discovery as "the matriarch of a once-powerful Lancaster Amish family." However, according to Lancaster Online, there is "zero evidence" linking Schmucker to any Amish families in the region.

The Amish Mafia might not actually exist

According to several sources, the "Amish Mafia" was invented for the reality series and does not actually exist. In an interview with NPR, Elizabethtown College professor Donald Kraybill, who is an Amish scholar, said the cast's behavior eschews the Amish's commitment to being pacifists. In Kraybill's opinion, "There's no Amish mafia. There never was. The whole thing is a fabrication in the minds of the producers."

It has also been noted that the "Lancaster County Police," which Lebanon Levi claimed arrested him on multiple occasions, does not exist. Although there is a police department for the city of Lancaster, there is no county-wide agency. As reported by LancasterOnline, the Lancaster City Police Department made a public statement concerning the discrepancy via social media. In a Facebook post, it said, "If you are looking for the Lancaster County Police Department, as depicted on a fictional cable TV show, you may want to look elsewhere."

In one episode, Lebanon Levi is seen leaving a store called Art & Glassworks with an envelope, which he said contained cash paid to him in exchange for his support and protection of the business. However, according to The Record, Karin Meachem, who owns Art & Glassworks, has never heard of Levi or the Amish Mafia and is not paying anyone to protect her or her business. Although she said she gave film crews permission to record footage outside her store, she was told it was for a documentary.

Zachary L. Martin died in August 2015

Although "Amish Mafia" was canceled after the 4th season and the controversy surrounding the series is ongoing, some of the cast members have faced some very real tragedies.

As reported by Starcasm, Zachary L. Martin, who was known as Zach on "Amish Mafia," was described by Discovery as "Doug's right-hand man, who shares Doug's hatred of the Amish." Tragically, Martin was severely injured in a car accident while drag racing in 2007. As his back was broken in the accident, he was unable to walk and had to use a wheelchair. However, the accident did not slow Martin down — Discovery said he was specifically known for his marksmanship, his violent temper, and "his appetite for" destruction and women.

In August 2015, Martin began having problems with one of his legs, which was injured during the accident. According to Starcasm, Martin underwent surgery to correct the issue. Unfortunately, there were complications following the operation, which ultimately led to Martin's death. According to Dauphin County coroner Lisa Potteiger, Martin died on August 28, 2015. His cause of death was officially deemed to be complications arising from the 2007 crash, and the manner of death was determined to be accidental.

As stated in his obituary, which was provided by Starcasm, Martin attended Pequea Valley High School, where he played football through his senior year. He was an avid sports fan and specifically liked football, NASCAR, fishing and hunting. At the time of his death, he was employed by Raytec Manufacturing as an assembler.

Esther Schmucker is a victim of domestic abuse

In December 2013, Imir R. Williams — also known by the stage name Mirkat — pleaded guilty to attacking and beating his girlfriend Esther Schmucker, who is known for her role on "Amish Mafia." Daily Mail reports that Schmucker suffered a broken cheekbone and nose and lost several teeth after Williams repeatedly struck her in the face.

Immediately following the attack, Williams took Schmucker to the Lancaster Regional Medical Center for treatment. However, Schmucker told the doctors she was attacked by another female, as Williams was with her when she was questioned. According to the Daily Mail, Schmucker was frightened and wanted to report the attack to law enforcement officials, but Williams refused to leave her side. Her roommate, Candice Klase, eventually went to the police and provided a written statement outlining what really happened to the former "Amish Mafia" star. Schmucker eventually confirmed her roommate's report and told authorities William beat her, sexually assaulted her, and threatened her life on several occasions.

Schmucker said she reported the abuse multiple times and filed for protection orders. However, as she failed to attend the hearings, the charges were eventually dismissed. The most recent case moved forward with Schmucker's cooperation, and Williams ultimately pleaded guilty to charges of assault and stalking. Following his conviction, he was released on time served and sentenced to three years probation. By February 2014, Lancaster Online reports that the couple reconciled, but authorities have responded to two 911 calls to the couple's home.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Mary Troyer is a victim of sexual abuse

Mary Troyer, who is known on "Amish Mafia" as "Mean Mary," has been the subject of several controversies, including her rumored sexual prowess and her creation of a chatline for sharing gossip with other Amish women. As reported by PennLive, Troyer was one of the cast members who was actually raised in the Amish community. As a member of the Swartzentruber Amish church, she was part of a specifically conservative community that does not allow any modern amenities, including indoor toilets.

Troyer said she made the decision to leave the Amish community because she did not agree with the rules they imposed. In an interview with PennLive, Troyer said, "They wanted to say they're all biblical rules, but they're not. They're all man-made rules. If you question the rules at all, they basically tell you to shut up and not question them. This is just how it is."

Although she was excommunicated from the community upon her departure from the church, Troyer was not shunned until she agreed to appear in the "Amish Mafia" series. She opened up about her childhood sexual abuse on the show and was specifically critical of her mother's reaction to the abuse. She also discussed the pervasiveness of sexual abuse in some Amish communities and how it is often overlooked. Although she said the shunning has been difficult, Troyer said she has decided to "keep on looking forward ... knowing it's going to get better" (via PennLive).

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).