WILKES-BARRE — Jan Lewan will headline the return of his Pocono Polka Party at Mount Airy Casino Resort — the place where it all began many years ago.
Lewan, the 77-year-old Polish-born singer who made headlines for his music and multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania on Tuesday to announce the return of the popular polka party.
“I met with Mount Airy management today,” Lewan said. “The Pocono Polka Party will return soon. We have not decided on a starting date, but I expect it will be very popular again.”
Lewan said he performed at Mount Airy for 10 years, consistently drawing more than 1,000 people to dance the polka.
He decided to perform so he could earn money to continue paying restitution to people affected by his crimes.
He built what some have called a “polka empire,” which included a gift shop and leading tours to Europe. He also convinced investors to give him money, promising returns of 12 percent and later 20 percent. But Lewan used the money of new investors to pay earlier investors — a Ponzi scheme — and eventually filed for bankruptcy.
In 2004, he was sentenced to five years in prison on securities fraud charges.
“I have nothing else to hide,” Lewan said. “I never give up. I am doing this because I am sorry for all the people who got hurt by my business. I will do everything I can to be able to be faithful to my restitution. I am paying restitution and I will pay until it is all paid back.”
Lewan will also do a speaking tour of high schools and universities to discuss his experiences and speak about right and wrong.
After the 10-year run of the Pocono Polka Party at Mount Airy, Lewan said he then went to Atlantic City and performed at Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal casino. He said he held a Polka Festival three times a year that drew 15,000 to 30,000 over a two-day weekend.
Lewan, whose last name is Lewandowski, now resides in West Palm Beach, Fla. He is looking forward to re-starting the polka party at Mount Airy.
“I will be the host,” he said. “And I hope that (actor) Jack Black will join me as well.”
Black starred in the movie “The Polka King” as the polka impresario. The movie was inspired by a documentary titled “The Man Who Would Be Polka King” about Lewan.
“Thanks to the movie, many doors have opened for me,” Lewan said.