Support For The Zalewski Family
$4,695 raised
31% of $15k goal
42 contributors
62 Weeks running


As many of you know, my brother was arrested last week. Ever since his arrest, I feel as if time has stopped. My own priorities have taken a back seat because I find it hard to justify doing anything for myself. I am constantly anxious and scared for my family’s future. The job I have now is above my own dreams. My name is Jessica Zalewski, and I am Pauly’s little sister and organizer of this fundraiser. Looking back on my life thus far, I believe my parents gave me the best possible childhood they could have. However, my family struggled to make ends meet and dealt with constant hardships, including living below the poverty line. My parents were continually forced to figure out what we could sacrifice in order to save money. There was never any room to plan for the future, let alone a tragedy. Therefore, these incredibly emotional circumstances with my brother have put a great financial stress on our family.


My upbringing has made me mentally stronger and I am now able to face unexpected challenges head on. My past experiences taught me to be strong-willed and open-minded. I am also realizing that sometimes, it is okay to ask for help. Life is tough, and some hardships can be too much to overcome alone. There is no place to go to for a situation like this, except to the hearts of our friends and family.  


The media is only showing what Pauly has been accused of. These accusations are harsh, and they will be a tough hurdle to jump. However, I am willing to put this out there because I know the truth about who he really is. If you are visiting this page, it is likely because you know me or someone in my family. If not, I can tell you that Pauly is a bubbly and charitable young man. He is also an unbreakable human being that cares deeply for his family and friends. It would destroy him to know that we are suffering at his expense .


The reality is, these donations are not just for Pauly. They are for my sister, my brother and parents too. This unfortunate circumstance is greatly impacting all of our lives emotionally and causing even more financial instability. Currently, I am a full-time student at DePaul, and I desperately hope to keep it that way. I work three jobs, and have little to show for it because most of my money goes towards school expenses. I find it extremely difficult to admit to needing help, but I do not want us to suffer in silence. With that being said, this is my plea for help. Please try to look past the headlines and deeper into the words I have written.


Who My Brother Paul Is To Me

If you know Pauly first hand, I am sure you can attest the fact that Pauly is an incredibly loving friend, brother, and son. For those of you who don’t know him on that level, I will explain to you who Pauly truly is to me. Pauly is a dedicated brother to Joey, Priscilla and I. His number one priority has always been his family. Pauly makes a constant effort to check up on my siblings and I to ensure we are doing well in school, and that we are overall happy and healthy. He admires fitness and holds us accountable to live happier and healthier lives.


He is notorious for putting us above what is happening in his life. No matter how busy his schedule became, he never forgot to make time for me. His love is unexplainable. He never failed to bring a smile to my face when I would walk in the front door and was greeted to his goofy smile, and a giant hug calling me princess.


Above all, Pauly is my biggest supporter and relentlessly pushes me to achieve my goals. Because neither of my parents went to college, my siblings and I had to master this new playing field with little knowledge of what to expect. Luckily, Pauly has a natural instinct to teach. As an older brother, he took on a leadership role and chose to help my siblings and I navigate life. I love that he teaches me something new each time we are together. After moving five hours away from home to rural Indiana for my freshman year of college, I debated transferring schools for better career opportunities and to be closer to my family. Pauly, having gone through this process, helped guide me through transferring universities and transitioning into my first apartment. Because of him, I am now living downtown Chicago pursuing a degree at DePaul University with hopes of attending dental school. Additionally, Pauly helped me find and buy my first car, and made it his priority to ensure I was driving a safe vehicle.


Many aspects of my life were only possible because Pauly made sacrifices so that I would not have to. He stayed close to home, putting his life on hold, to help my dad run our family business. This allowed me to move away to college. Since Pauly did not have a traditional high school education he prioritized gaining contacts to help further his opportunities. Pauly provided me with people who were able to donate necessary school supplies and scholarships during my process of transitioning into college. He went above and beyond to give me everything he never had the opportunity of having himself.


Pauly was my inspiration growing up. His best characteristic is his ability to help people travel outside of their comfort zone. He encouraged me to push my boundaries, and he taught me how look past my insecurities and focus on what I had to bring to the table. I look up to him because he never let anyone take away what made him unique. From that, he taught me to love what made me different. He never failed to lead by example. Through his experiences he was able to show me first hand what I could achieve by working hard in any and every aspect of my life.


He was enrolled in school earning his associates degree while being the primary provider for himself and his girlfriend, who is in her second year of medical school. Pauly has a learning disability, which was a bump in the road at one period of time. But he still found a way to attend college on a full scholarship. It is so obvious how desperately he wants to learn and better himself. It humbles me because it really makes me stop and think about how much I have been blessed with. I admire how he spends countless hours with tutors just to stay on pace with his peers. On top of that, Pauly took it upon himself to allocate additional hours to study with Priscilla. He is everything I could hope to have in a family member and friend.


He held our family together through thick and thin. Now it is our time to defend his name and get through this tragic period of our lives. Everyone deserves the right to a fair trial. I am doing everything I can to make sure that is exactly what happens. We  just want fair legal representation. That is the least we can do to give back to him for everything he has done for us. Try to put yourself in my shoes, I would never ask for this if I was not truly in need of your help.


The Costs

The average cost of an adequate criminal defense attorney starts at $20,000 just to take the case. This number is shockingly high for a family of six who have no savings or assets. And yet, this $20,000 only covers the cost of what lawyers would consider a low retainer fee. Some of the lawyers who were recommended had retainer fees of up to $100,000 . These lawyers are considered the best of the best, however even the lawyers with the lowest prices are still outrageously out of our price range. It is important for me to put this in perspective. Together, my parents only make about $50,000 per year , which is not much for a family of six. Not too long ago we had to refinance our house and file for a bankruptcy. Overall, this will likely cost somewhere between $50,000 to $100,000 dollars to fight this case. These numbers do not include bail. The price of fair legal representation can carry stiff penalties that could have significant long term effects. Your donations will help cover costs of a reasonably priced lawyer and the necessary support my brother and family will need during this process.

Although Pauly did not live with us he contributed a substantial amount of time and money to my family. Pauly was dependable and stepped up to the plate when we were in need. With all that has happened, we feel isolated and alone. We are not asking for much, but just what you can. 

My parents are good people and I love them. Help me help them. 

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