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Like many new arrivals to Canada, Hermann Beier came to this country with big dreams — visions of a wide-open country where hard work and entrepreneurial flair would make him rich. A charismatic handyman, martial arts teacher, and small business owner, he charmed women and earned the respect of men. He was loved in his community of Alliston, Ontario, and had a plan to make a million bucks. But when those dreams soured, Beier turned to crime to pay the bills.

Faced with bankruptcy in 1991, Beier hatched a plan to rob a string of banks in a single day. But it was all too much, too fast. After leading authorities from Guelph to Caledon on what was then the longest police chase in Canadian history, Beier was gunned down alongside a farmer’s fence, his body pierced by a hail of police bullets.

But he survived, and the end of his crime spree marked a new beginning. After spending almost a decade in various Ontario prisons, searching for a way to get his life back on track, Beier was finally paroled. He now lives a quiet life, dividing his time between Canada and Austria.

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