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Man claims living wife died on 911 { February 5 2004 }

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Man Says Wife Died In 9/11 Tragedy, But She Didn't

UPDATED: 9:09 PM EST February 5, 2004

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. -- The September 11th terrorist attacks killed many, many people. And, in a way, they took the life of a Brevard County woman who wasn't even there. This is a story of 9-11 fraud and deceit and someone trying to cheat the system.

"It's great, Florida in the sunshine. We've been very, very, very happy," says Donna Laskowski.

For Donna and her two sons, life was finally on the right track. They moved to Florida to get away and hide from an abusive father and ex-husband. Even years later, the boys don't want their faces shown. All was fine, until son Stephen got a strange phone call.

The message was from Stephen's father and said the family had come into a large sum of money.

"He was asking me all kinds of questions about how to deal with, invest the money. I had no clue what he was talking about," explains Stephen.

Confused by the message, Stephen called his father back and, during the conversation, heard the name of the family's old insurance agent in Pennsylvania. So, Donna decided to call that office to find out what was going on. She got the receptionist.

"'Oh dear, God. My God. Oh God, Donna,' she said, 'You're alive,'" explains Laskowski. "[She said,] 'I don't believe you're alive. Oh my God, your husband was here and said you were dead.'"

Stephen Laskowski, Sr. had claimed Donna was working on the 12th floor of one of the towers of the World Trade Center when it came crashing down. He had turned in paperwork requesting more than a million dollars from the 9/11 Victim's Compensation Fund, just a week before the cut-off.

Donna's name was even listed on the victim's compensation website as a victim.

"That's when it hit me how bad this was," says Laskowski.

But what he did didn't surprise Donna. The family says, when they left behind their home in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, they also left behind a conman, a dangerous, but bright, individual who was always looking for new ways to interfere in their lives.

Channel 9 reporter Scott Thuman tracked down Stephen Laskowski, Sr. at his Pennsylvania home.

"Yes, my wife, Donna Lee Laskowski, died in the World Trade Center [on] September 11th," he said.

"See, what I have a hard time understanding is, I interviewed your wife last week," Thuman informed him.

"You did? Where?" asked Laskowski, Sr.

"You understand these papers that you filed with the government claim that she died in the towers. Your wife told me she never has been to New York, never been to the World Trade Center," Thuman said.

"You sure you're talking about the right Donna Lee Laskowski?" he asked.

"Yes," Thuman replied.

To which Laskowski, Sr. said, "Well that changes everything, doesn't it?"

He claimed it's all a misunderstanding, even though he had talked to his sons since 9/11 and, they say, never brought up that their mother might be dead.

Laskowski now says, he would refuse the money. "My wife's alive. That's great," he said.

Donna has since contacted multiple agencies, including the FBI and 9/11 compensation group, but has yet to see action. So she, and her boys, still, won't rest easy.

"Maybe this one big thing that he did, if justice is served properly, he'll stop. This will be an ending point," Donna says.
Copyright 2004 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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