It is immediately apparent that the cast of Amish Mafia aren’t quite whom they purport to be. For example, Alan Beiler is an actor who worked with one of the cast of Breaking Amish. And Beiler expunged his social profiles after the premiere of Amish Mafia. Also, Lebanon Levi is really 33-year-old Levi King Stoltzfus who, rather than the violent crimes implied by Discovery, is actually convicted on multiple alcohol and driving related crimes. A lot of which appear to be misdemeanors and most of which took place a decade ago.
Stoltzfus also used social media including his MySpace (that appears to have last been used in 2010). On the MySpace profile, he notes that he’s owner of a business established 2002 (around the same time as he started getting drunk driving convictions) called C & L Siding and Treated Decks.
During episode two of Amish Mafia, Stoltzfus is sitting atop a roof and reveals that he works construction. In addition to his real surname, that was accidentally broadcast in clumsily redacted records during the premiere, this also appears to be true. Better Business Bureau notes “Levi K. Stoltzfus” is one of the two business partners of C & L Siding and Treated Decks. He really does own a legitimate company that appears to be a going concern since its website is still live (although the newest reviews are from 2009).
It may surprise some people to learn that (in addition to the admittedly fake Amish Mafia conjured by Discovery) Stoltzfus is a fire fighter, about which he also talked on MySpace, and he’s a business owner. As some people may have very fixed ideas about how the Amish make their living.
Some answers can be found in another production about the Amish, one with more credibility.
BBC documentary Amish: A Secret Life aired August 27, 2012. Literally DAYS before the September 9 premiere of TLC’s Breaking Amish and months before the December 11 debut of Discovery’s Amish Mafia.
The BBC program is markedly different from the American productions since the BBC’s show is a documentary, Discovery’s show is a docu-drama, and TLC’s is reality show. But they were all filmed in Pennsylvania within weeks of each other.
In case you haven’t seen it, below is Amish: A Secret Life starring a lovely family to whom you’ll become very attached before the hour’s through. At about 23 minutes in the guy, David, is revealed to own a construction company in hopes of saving enough to buy a farm (returning to his roots, even though it’s less money).
In case you’re unable to watch the video, the voice over at 23:20 explains: “50 years ago, the majority of Amish were farmers. But in Pennsylvania, high land prices mean most now work in Amish-owned small businesses. Dave has his own concrete construction firm.”
Sound familiar? “Lebanon Levi” Stoltzfus is also from Pennsylvania, Stoltzfus also owns his own small business, and Stoltzfus is also in construction. Stoltzfus is probably working in the same industry in the same town for the same reason: the land prices make it a profitable alternative to farming.
Lastly, in case you’re wondering how Discovery can claim there is an Amish Mafia when there probably isn’t one, Mennonite World Review offers some perspective from a writer who was raised in the Mennonite faith: “Since their Christian faith doesn’t support graven images, and since the Amish prioritize humility and view pride as a threat to community harmony, you won’t see Amish spokespersons appearing before the press to defend their culture from a Discovery or TLC attack. For Hollywood, then, they make for easy attack and a prime target.”