A Boy's Dream Overshadowed

Nathan Duszynski 'hanging in there' after bizarre turn of events involving his stepfather

Nathan Duszynski

Nathan Duszynski, the 13-year-old who wanted to operate a hot dog cart in Holland, is coping with a bizarre turn of events that have overshadowed his attempt to start his own business.

He's "hanging in there," said Lynette Johnson, his mom.  

On Monday, authorities arrested the boy’s stepfather, Doug Johnson, for allegedly attempting to defraud or cheat under false pretenses. According to District Judge David J. Buter, speaking at Johnson’s arraignment on Wednesday, the charge is a five-year felony, but because Johnson has a record of previous felony offenses, his sentence could be enhanced if he were convicted.

Nathan's case tugged at the heartstrings of thousands after the city of Holland shut down his hot dog cart because of a zoning ordinance. Nathan told reporters in recent weeks that he was trying to help his parents, who were going through a tough time. Lynette Johnson and her husband, Doug, are disabled, homeless and unemployed.

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During his video arraignment from the Kent County Jail, Doug Johnson responded to the judge's comment about Johnson's previous felony offenses by saying that they stem from a "prior business." He did not elaborate. The crimes included fraud and operating under false pretenses.

There were no details revealed in court regarding the most recent charge. Johnson told the judge he is married and has multiple sclerosis, heart disease, a 13-year-old son about to enter school and a wife with epilepsy. He said the family moved to Holland a year ago and was living in a low-budget motel until rates went up for the season.

The judge set bail at $25,000 cash or surety bond.

Lynette Johnson said that Nathan is safe and that they have moved out of a local shelter.

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There have been 17 exonerations in Michigan involving misapplied forensic science. Several groups from different sides of the political spectrum are calling for improvements to forensic science and for better transparency and quality control in crime labs.

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