Dustin Underwood is a past client and now friend who has a story of overcoming seemingly impossible odds.
Dustin grew up surrounded by alcohol and drugs in Bloomington. After being expelled from school, legal problems started to build with an eventual jail sentence before the age of 18.
After 18 his drug and theft problems continued, eventually leading to more jail time between the ages of 19 and 21.
Finally, a third felony sent him to prison. A year later, after scoring in the top 20% of the nation on the GED, he started getting his life together. The stress of life and a bad economy in 2007 sent him spiraling back into addiction, which sent him back to prison.
Out of prison his problems continued.
Until December 5th, 2011. A day that may have sent him to prison for 10 years. Until what he read in the Bible was a forecast to what happened next.
This is part 1 of an amazing story.
"Okay, I was in and out. I do 30 days, and then I'd get out. And then I do 60 days, then I get out. Then they'd violate me because I was still using and I'd go to another 30 days, you know, so it was in and out, in and out, in and out. All at the same jail."
"So I was in this alone. 100% alone, and really had to put my big boy pants on. Because now I'm in a situation where, obviously you're with convicted murderers."
"So I hadn't been in any type of schooling or anything like that. And so I'm like, Oh, I'm gonna try for my GED while I'm here, too. Well, I didn't even study. And I passed in the top 20% of the nation."
Welcome to Life behind the highlight reel. The podcast that takes things beyond the curated life we all see online. Join hosts Sarah and William Huffman as they dive in with their friends to talk about the good and the hard things that come with a real, not perfect life behind the highlight reel.
William Huffman 0:20
Hey everybody, William here and Sarah. And we just need to let you know that we are licensed real estate agents in the state of Minnesota with REMAX results a Good Life Group and that's our legal disclaimer. Everybody want him here and Sarah and Jory and Dustin? All right. So excited for this podcast. So Dustin, when did we meet?
Dustin Underwood 0:48
Well, I met Matt probably on the house run a couple years ago, but we work together I was done. Matt doesn't know the Dutton but byton done, sir. I met you right before we found our house. Yeah, like the house. On that was
Sarah Huffman 1:06
summer. I'm just remember like the date of when it was hot.
Dustin Underwood 1:10
It had been.
William Huffman 1:12
Wow, bro. It was summer and it was hot. April riveting last year, April or May. It was because you were moving in in May. Yeah. Gosh, it's almost been a year. It's really wild. Yeah, cuz
Dustin Underwood 1:21
I met you and it was like 30 days. So closing. Yeah. It's a done deal.
William Huffman 1:25
Yeah. And here we are. So you guys, today we have Dustin Underwood on our podcast. He is full disclosure. He is a past client. Yeah. However, we would now qualify him as more of a friend. Absolutely. And an ice fishing aficionado, which is just a small part of what we're going to talk about today. So you know about the tents, the 10 hubs, the hubs. Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Come on. I think Dustin and we'll talk way more how get text messages. He's got this big old Walter the walleye in the photo, and I'm like, Dude, I caught I caught some, you know, crappy 16 ounce bass, you know, you know, that's beer. I wouldn't in the whole bottle bass. Yeah. Yeah, you were Yeah. You're in love. Yeah. Never cut anything. Except those. What does that rattle rollers rattle Real? Real? Yeah. Those were actually the most successful? No, no tip ups. tip ups that were out. Was that a different? I don't even know. There's so many things about ice for so
Dustin Underwood 2:25
many. Yeah, it's expensive to go broke by No. Oh my God. Is it the truth? Yeah.
William Huffman 2:30
All right. So what we want to talk about here is as little or as much as you want, but let's kind of start from the beginning. Like where were you born? Where'd you grow up? Where do you go to school? kind of start there?
Dustin Underwood 2:40
Gotcha. So um, I was born in Center City that's in Chisago. County. And we pretty much lived mostly in Bloomington. Growing up. That was probably like the the most trying time of life I guess.
William Huffman 2:59
Okay. You did qualify that in your life as the most trying time? Yeah,
Dustin Underwood 3:03
yeah. Yeah. Cuz we didn't grow up. Like we didn't grow up super rich or you know, had a lot of money or anything like that. You know, growing up, there was a lot of alcohol and drugs involved. That's just kind of lifestyle that we grew up around. And my mom at the time, she'd had a pretty abusive boyfriend. Okay. So life at home was pretty rough. Okay. And most of the summers, you know, my mom, she would send us up to my grandma and grandpa's house. That's an aisle. And that was kind of home to me. So that's why I got them relax lake fishing. Oh, okay. That makes sense. Yep. Yep. So Lacs Lake was kind of home in the summer times and stuff like that. And once we once she got out of that relationship, that things just kind of took a turn for the worse. You know, she'd been in the relationship for 12 years.
William Huffman 3:59
Okay. So how old were you when this started in like ended?
Dustin Underwood 4:03
I was 13 when it ended. Okay. So pretty much your whole life. Yep. Yep. Because my real dad, he wasn't really around. And she had been in that relationship. She ended it when I was 13. My brother at that point had already moved to my grandma and grandpa's thing. How old was he? He was 14. Oh, okay. So he moved to get away from it. And we'd move to Eagan. And Eagan was kind of out of the reom that I was used to. A lot of the kids had money, their parents had money, you know, and I was like, I was an outcast. Okay, so to speak. Yeah. And that's, that's pretty much where I first got in trouble.
William Huffman 4:45
Okay. You took a long time to get there. I'm just kidding. I think so. Well, about 13 or 14? Yep.
Dustin Underwood 4:51
About 1314. I was in the school, you know, and I just wasn't digging it. Everybody had money, you know, and we were still living pretty poor. Hmm. And mom was drinking all the time out doing drugs with her friends and just trying to take care of those emotions that she was dealing with. I wouldn't I would assume,
Unknown Speaker 5:10
right? Yeah. Trying to bury them. Yeah. Yep. And
Dustin Underwood 5:15
it was. I was about six months into the school year. I'd been to school about 30 days out of the whole school year. Okay. Yep. And I just had enough. And so I went to the school one day and did a bunch of damage to the school. Okay. Blew up a bunch of fireworks. Right. And then they expelled me.
William Huffman 5:37
Okay, was was that your goal? That
Dustin Underwood 5:39
was my goal. Okay, it was one of them. I want attention type of deals. Okay. Is what I what I think it was.
William Huffman 5:49
I'm gonna pause you for a second here. You're talking about this very calmly and very, very sophisticated. Because you're saying, you know, it was one of those attention things? I'm assuming at the time, you didn't know. That's what it was? Absolutely. Okay. Because there's a lot that's happened between then and now for you to have the clarity and the understanding of why you may be acted out like that. Yeah, most definitely. Okay, cool. And we'll get to that as much or as little as you want. And just, you know, you will, and we can leave this part in there. Because I want people to know this. When people come on here, and they may want to talk about things. Maybe in the moment, they're excited to talk about it. But you will have final editing revisions to see you know, so if all of a sudden you're like listening to what you like, maybe I don't want to share that. You can totally just you know,
Dustin Underwood 6:34
we're all in. Okay.
Sarah Huffman 6:35
I know you are. I know you are. You are an open book. And that's what I really appreciate one of the things I love about you. Alright, cool. So you decided to go ahead and book. Can I just pause for a sec? Yeah, I think that's one of the things that I love about you, Dustin is it's like you've had you know, issues or things that have come up. And it's like, the way you talk about it. It's like, there's so much hope in your story that like that's the part where I knew we had to have you on this podcast, because it's not just about like, what happened. This is your story is truly a story of hope.
Dustin Underwood 7:09
Right? That's, that's why I don't mind sharing it. You know, we appreciate that so much done a lot of things. I've seen it do things to people's lives. So I don't really hold anything back. You know, anyone that runs into me if they want to know, you know, I'm gonna let them have that.
William Huffman 7:23
Yes, yes. You are ready to go? Yeah. Good, bad or indifferent. Yeah. All right. So we're probably just had fireworks seventh or eighth grade in the school. Yeah. Fireworks get expelled.
Dustin Underwood 7:34
Yeah, I get expelled. And at that point, my mom really didn't know what to do with me. So she shipped me to my aunt's and Fergus Falls. Okay. And because my brother had already been at my grandma and grandpa's, so my aunt's was like, the only place for me to go and how was that going for your brother? things up? My grandma and grandpa's, were great. Okay. I mean, they were old school, you know, they whip your butt with a belt. Yeah, we're not minding it, you know, but it was a whole different atmosphere. That's why we enjoyed going there in the summer. You know, we were a structure. There was structure. We were outside. I mean, we really didn't even have to be doing a whole lot. But you know, grandpa always taught us you know, we were up there we'd be splitting wood, or, you know what I mean, doing stuff in the summertime, we were actually outside doing stuff. Whereas when I was in the cities in Bloomington, it was there was no structure there was you know, barely any parents at home. My mom would work but then they'd go to the bar. David fogs I don't even know. Oh, my gosh, yes, it's still there. It's still there. So, um, that's where they would be. And we would actually, we had a relationship with the bartender because we would call up there and ask for our mom, you know, oh, man, what are we doing for dinner? You know what I mean? So wow, there was really no structure at home. And so like for my brother, my grandma grandpa's was really, really good. And my aunts was the only option for me. Okay, so when I got shipped up to my aunt's all my friends were in Eagan and Bloomington. And that, at that time, we didn't have cell phones are great. Everything was long distance, because
William Huffman 9:14
we're like, cut our age, right? Because we're 41 Yep, I'm
Dustin Underwood 9:17
41. Yeah, yeah. So
William Huffman 9:19
you're an 80s. Baby yet born in 1880? Probably
Dustin Underwood 9:21
so everything, you know, you didn't have cell phones and stuff. So any call you made from Fergus Falls to the cities with long distance, distance will all my friends are in the city. So actually, when I ended up in my aunt's calling all my friends I racked up her phone bill. Okay. I was, you know, I wasn't aware. Right. And she got the phone bill for the next month, and I only been there a month. And she got the phone bill. It was like 800 and some dollars. Wow. And, you know, not a lot of people made a lot of money back then. And so that pretty much put her through the rough. So she was done with me too. And so Grandma and Grandpa's was the only place for me to go. Okay. And so I went to grandma and grandpa's, but by that time, you know, it just felt like nobody really wanted me or anything do with me. So I was, at this point I was 14 going on 15 I'd went to school for a little bit Niall. And, you know, I was a city boy in their eyes and the kids his eyes, so I got into a lot of fights. Then the charges came from Egan from the school, the damage to property, all that so I got my first little taste of being in the system. And I ended up with a fine out of the deal. But I was still running around, like I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing. You know, I still felt like I didn't want to have that structure from grandma and grandpa, because I'd never had it for the last 14 years. So I didn't want rules, you know what I mean? And then I'd met a girl at school and, and her parents seemed okay with me being there. So then finally, I just ran away at 15. Okay, so 15 years old, I ran away, and then my mom caught wind of it. And she actually came up there looking for me and she found me in a it's called a pizza den. It's not there no more. But in aisle, there was this place called the pizza den where all the kids would hang out. And I'll never forget her coming in the front door, you know, and she just gave me that look like what are you doing? And psycho? I never had no rules. Why do I gotta have them now and 15 You know what I mean? And so I kind of just bounced back and forth. I lived at the girlfriend's dad's house for a little while. And then I ended up back at grandma grandpa's. And they helped me get my first car. And I was working at ICDs golf and Yacht Club. And I was cooking. So I was a cook. I was making pretty good money, you know, 750 plus gratuity, you know, back
William Huffman 11:56
in 96. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I was making 475 at Hardee's. Yeah.
Dustin Underwood 12:01
So you know, at 16 I was feeling pretty good. I bought a 79 Monte Carlo and Jack the back end. And I had my little, you know, my little hot rod car. But then being in that position where I was making that kind of money, and the crowd I was around because there was a certain kind of crowd around the golf and Yacht Club. That's when I found drugs. Okay. And a lot of people were doing cocaine and stuff like that. But I found meth, and 16 at 16. And I tried a little bit, you know, and we're most of us were smoking weed all the time. And I tried a little bit. And that little bit pretty much sent me on my journey, okay. And it got pretty bad. 17 I'd quit eyes at golf and Yacht Club. I mean, we were running around just raising hell breaking into fish houses, doing all kinds of stuff. Well, then that finally caught up to me. And I'd gotten arrested. I started working at flagship just for a temporary dishwashing job, it flagship resort, it's another resort, have them relax. And they'd came right to my work and arrested me. Wow. And I was only 17. And I brought them to where we'd had all these, you know, liquor bottles from the fish houses and stuff like that, that he taken and pretty much turned it all over and said, Yep, you know, yeah, I did this. And that was my first time that I had to make a decision. What I wanted for a sentence because I was 17. I wasn't an adult yet, but I was so close to being an adult, that they gave me the option. So they said 90 days and this'll do. I don't know if you've ever heard about this, we'll do is so what this will do is like a camp for boys and bad kids or whatever. It's it's way up north by the Canadian border. Okay. And it's splitting wood and hauling and stacks back and forth. You know, it's like a little boot camp. Yeah, it's basically. And they said either 90 days and this will do or 30 days in jail. Since I was so close to
William Huffman 14:18
it said okay. 17, almost 18, almost 18. Okay.
Dustin Underwood 14:21
And I said, Well, I don't want to do 90 days, you know, because I had a habit at this point. Yeah, you know what I mean? So, you know, 30 days sounds much better. You know what I mean? Because I can get out sooner. So you chose 30 days in jail. Yeah. I chose the 30 days in jail. So I ended up in Aiken County Jail for 30 days. And it wasn't even 30 days because you got on STS and Workday for a day so I was actually less Yes
William Huffman 14:47
Since deserve so I don't even know what that is cleaning highways and stuff. Yeah.
Dustin Underwood 14:51
So I was I was doing that. And so I got out like 18 days. And so I did the 18 days, I got out. And I was still on one, like, it just didn't stop because, you know, methods, some really nasty, nasty stuff. And then I started selling it and, you know, using it non stop selling some maybe to feed my habit, whatever it was. And then I started picking up felony, more felony charges as an adult.
William Huffman 15:32
So it was it was the first felony. So when you were 17 That was a felony they were charging you with
Dustin Underwood 15:37
Yeah, it was a felony second degree burglary. Okay. And that was that was my first one. And that kind of went away after I turned 18. Yep, the minor thing, whatever. Yeah, yep. So that kind of stayed on the minor record. But then I started getting felonies as an adult, after 18. First one was 19. And it was just like a it was one after another, basically. And they were all for minor possessions. Anytime you get caught with a pipe for smoking meth, it's, it's a fifth degree felony. Yep. And that's pretty much what the majority of them were. And eventually, you know, after I got three of them, and I, I mean, I'd been in jail, you know, from from the age of 19. Till 21. I probably was in there most of that. Couple years. Okay, I was in and out, I do 30 days, and then I'd get out, then I catch another case. And then I do 60 days, then I get out, then they'd violate me because I was still using and I'd go to another 30 days, you know, so it was in and out, in and out, in and out. All at the same jail. Mostly, okay. Mostly, I did some time in Canada County, and then I Sani County was the big one. Okay. That's where I was in and out of jail the most. And I was kind of around there. Because when I turned 19, that's when I That's when I found out I was going to have a son.
William Huffman 17:11
Wow, okay. Yeah, there's a little
Dustin Underwood 17:14
writing. So, you know, at 19, I was still using and in that scene, and I'd met a girl, well, then, you know, 19, I found out I was gonna have a son. And I guess we'll back up to that, because that's kind of what led to, you know, deeper and deeper use is that, you know, I was going to have a son, well, then I had a son. And I was still actively using. And I'd had these little jobs here and there, just to kind of support things. But I was still living in people's houses or in friend's bedrooms. And it was, you know, it was that lifestyle. So you're pretty much just trying to stay where you could stay and yeah, do what you could do to get by. And eventually, that relationship didn't work. Well, and her her grandparents, my son's great mother's grandparents. Yeah. They didn't like me, oh, man, they didn't like me. And they wanted to take our son. Okay. And so that fueled the fire of us, you know what I mean? That's them. I want to bury these feelings. And I got really good at that. And so she, she, we had broke up. And she had stated her grandparents, well, then I wasn't allowed to be over there wasn't allowed to see my son, you know, so I felt pretty much defeated. And I knew that I was actively using and stuff like that. So there was no out for me, because at this point, you know, yeah, obviously, I was addicted to drugs. And so I just felt defeated in the whole sense that I don't have a relationship with my son. And obviously, I care about my son, but I can't figure out how to break away from the break this cycle, right. Break the addiction. Yeah.
William Huffman 19:10
And that's, that sounds like hell,
Dustin Underwood 19:13
it is Hell yeah. And it's one of them cycles that I kind of grew up with, because, you know, my real dad, he was only around, off and on till I was seven. And then from seven to 20 to 23. I hadn't seen him at all. Mm hmm. And so that was a huge cycle. Yeah, you know, that's what I was used to. I was never used to a dad was used to a grandpa, but not my dad. And so I felt pretty defeated. And so two years have gone by, you know, from 19 to 21. Because I had my son in 99. And then I'd met another girl, and she got pregnant with my oldest daughter. And I was so far off the deep end, you know, actively using and just trying to get by and do you know Maybe go and doing a rough job or something to make some money. And then she was going to have a baby. And she knew I was using but she didn't want me using it was I mean, obviously, I mean, right? Yeah. So, and she had another daughter with another guy, you know, and I had been trying to take care of her as well. And eventually, she didn't want to be with me anymore either, because in the US, and so there were more feelings that I had to bury. Mm hmm. And so the addiction just got worse and worse. And I'm catching felony cases throughout these two years. And
William Huffman 20:42
because you're 22 right now, at this point, 2121 22.
Dustin Underwood 20:44
Yep. And I got my third felony. And finally, the state said, You know what, that's enough. You're going to prison.
William Huffman 20:58
So if you go to jail, it's up to one year. If you go to prison, it's over one year. So you're looking at minimum of one year lockup at this point, one
Dustin Underwood 21:09
year in a day. Yeah, yeah. And so like those fifth degree felonies, you know, those are, there's a sentencing guideline for the state of Minnesota. And you, it'll basically spell it out for you get so many chances in the gray shaded area. Before you get into the white area. Yeah, the black and white part. Yeah. Where the white area is. That's an execution of sentence to the Department of Corrections.
William Huffman 21:39
Put it in layman's terms do not pass go do not collect $200 Go directly to jail. Prison in this case. Yep. Yep. And not making light of the situation. Just you know, yeah.
Dustin Underwood 21:48
No. And so, and that was 2004 is when finally they'd had enough. Okay. And so I executed sentence on all my felonies. So all the cases ran concurrent with each other. And that was my first trip to prison.
William Huffman 22:07
And how long were you in? For a year? One year? Okay. Yep.
Dustin Underwood 22:11
So well, you do eight months, four months parole. Okay. That's how that works with good time. But either way, it's an executed sentence of a year in a day. Yeah. Has to be more than a year. Yep. So two urine a day. And then Where were you for that? St. Cloud. Okay. And Faribault? Oh, okay. In between the two? Yep. Yep. So anyone that goes to prison, typically, you're going to St. Cloud first. Yeah, for enrollment, and then they send you wherever they're gonna send you. Okay. And you know, before I went, my grandma had died. So that was one more row. Yeah. Right. And just put more shit on the pile. Yeah. And that was after my daughter was born and stuff. And then everything went sour with the relationships, and my grandma died. So it was just fueling this fire. Wow. And so when I went to prison, I had it in my head that I got to change this. And, you know, I hadn't. I hadn't known what to do. And, you know, I'd never been to treatment. Treatment was never an option. I was just, you know, running rampant this whole treatment ever even brought up. It was never brought up, you know, and it is more so now, like nowadays with people that have addiction problems, you know, I don't people, you know, because I still try to coach other people that are dealing with these issues. And it's brought up more nowadays than it was when I was getting in trouble. Yep. But it was never brought up when I was getting in trouble. But then I went to St. Cloud penitentiary, and they did the orientation. And I was there for about 60 days. And they said, you're going to Fairbault. Now, at this point, I'm thinking man, I'm going way down south. I have no one around. You know, my mom, she wasn't going to come visit because she didn't know she had warrants. You know, and so I was in this alone. Yeah. 100% alone, and really had to put my big boy pants on. Mm hmm. Because now I'm in a situation where, obviously you're with convicted murderers. And you know, you don't know what's going to happen. Yeah. And when I got to Faribault their directive for me was treatment. And I thought, Okay, I'm going to do this Department of Corrections treatment and, and take it for what it's worth, but I already already had in my mind, you know, after losing my grandma, I'd sobered up and got to prison. I said, You know what, I'm going to change this and I felt really good about that. Okay. Like, like 100% like I was all in I didn't care what was going on around me. I knew that you could get drugs in prison and still do the things that you wanted to do that you were doing on the outside. But I'd made the decision that this is it, I need to change this because stuffs really serious at this point. Now you're 2425 24. Okay. And I don't even think I was 24 yet because it was early 2004 That I wasn't even 24 yet. And, and I did everything while I was there to show that I wanted to change. And I hadn't been to school since I was 15. Because when I ran away, I dropped out of school, right? So I hadn't been in any type of schooling or anything like that. And so I'm like, Oh, I'm gonna try for my GED while I'm here to. Well, I didn't even study. And I passed in the top 20% of the nation. Nice. And that was so cool. And it was like one of the biggest achievements because I'm like, man, I've been to school since I was 15. And I passed all this stuff with flying colors. And
William Huffman 26:01
kind of gives you that spark like, man, what if I apply myself? What if I, what if I, you know, right, put some more energy into me
Dustin Underwood 26:09
see, and I was doing a bunch of classes, I actually still have this trapper keeper at home. And I'd gotten all these certificates, Alternatives to Violence class courses that I took, while I was there, I took three different phases of that, you know, ended up getting a certificate for trainer for trainers, for alternatives to violence, it's like a domestic domestic abuse type deal, or whatever. And I did all these classes and stuff. And then the one that really hit me. When I was in there was a thing called father read. Like our e ad, yeah. Okay. And that's where you could buy books, and they would record you reading the books to send home to your kids. So, that one was, I did it, but it was really tough. And because I hadn't had a relationship with my kids you're good brother. And so I did that program. And I'd sent the books home, and I sent them to someone that I knew that could maybe get them to my kids. And at that point, things had been so bad between me and the kids, his mom's that, you know, she just kind of held on to him. And she held on to him for like, a long time. And then my grandpa died when I was in prison. And that hit me pretty hard. Because they it just so happened that when I checked into prison in Faribault, they'd asked me about, you know, the stuff I told you about, you know, like, what was it like growing up? Was there a dad around or anything like that? Well, I when they did that interview, I labeled my grandpa as basically my father figure. And normally in prison, you don't, you don't get out for funerals, unless it's a mom or dad or brother or sister. And it just so happened that since I basically labeled my grandpa's my dad, the counselor at the prison, fought for me to get released to go to the funeral. And so they they cuffed me up, they shackled me. And they drove me all the way from Faribault to Malacca lake for my grandpa's funeral. And they wanted it so nobody was there. But my aunt and my mom had been watching for the SUV with me and show up and then they just kind of came in there in the DOC guys really good about, you know, let my mom and Aunt come up there with me and, and that was really tough, because my grandpa was, you know, he was he was a really, he was actually a really good idol for me. You know, he a lot of things that he did teach me even if he didn't think they stuck, they really stuck. And so that was pretty tough for me. And he was the one that that was my motivation in prison to turn things around. And so that was really hard and had gotten released from prison. This happened 30 days before I got released from prison. So I was just about to get released and then he passed away. And I didn't really know what I was going to do because I didn't have nothing to go home to a lot of heartache and heartbreak and my kids you know, growing up without me and that was pretty tough. And I hold it together for quite a while. But then I ended up falling right back into it. And it's such a vicious cycle. You know, I did really good I got it. I got Good job building houses. Okay. Yep, this actually leads up to it. Yeah. You guys know this market. So I was actually doing really good. I was building houses. I was living in Watertown. I was building 2005 Six and all that. Yeah, I was building nice houses down in Chaska and Waconia and, and working for a really good company. And, and, you know, I wasn't paying attention to the other things that were going on in the world as far as like the market and ran things like that. Well, there was this whole build up that was coming. And, you know, me, I was just trying to make a paycheck and, and take care of things. Well, then I'd met another girl, and she got pregnant. And that was my second daughter on the way. And things are going pretty good. We had a place to live. She had the baby. I was building houses, things were great. And then the market crashed in 2008
William Huffman 30:56
Wow. I gotta be honest, I don't think I've ever thought about that side of the crash. Right? The people doing the work.
Dustin Underwood 31:03
Yep. So my daughter was born for 608. And we'd had our apartment type deal in Watertown. I was working, but then the market went to crap. And I was on a job in Minnetonka. And I remember the boss showing up and he said, This is your last job. And what do you mean? Because that's it, I gotta lay everybody, but two people off. And that was a huge blow, because we just gotten this apartment and based on our finances, on both incomes, both incomes so that, you know, everybody knows that financial stress can do a lot to a relationship. And it did. It really did. And we went through it, man, and I ended up obviously, I lost my job. So I was on unemployment. And you know, let's like 60%, or whatever, yeah, it's, it's nothing. And so that was a huge struggle for me. And it ended up putting me right back into that same repetitive behavior of going back and doing drugs, I need to maybe sell a little bit to make some ends meet and, and that cycle just sucked me right back. No. And I'd been off probation, and but then I started getting more felonies again. And they were the minor felonies. But now they were starting to add up because it pushed me out of these boxes and the sentencing guidelines to where now you're looking at 18 months, 24 months, or, you know, so it was getting more serious, but I didn't, you know, I was just doing me, you know, I it's sound selfish, but that's kind of what that cycle does to you. It just, it just takes you down swallows you up, and you just you don't even know, because you're so focused on burying the hurt of being a failure at working because you lost your job and, and you still don't have a relationship with your oldest son and daughter. And, and, and you know, that was the other thing too. When I went to prison. My son's mom's family, they actually stripped my rights to my son. So there was nothing anymore that I could do with that. It was I gotta wait until he's old enough to make his own decision. Because there's nothing I can do. And, and I tried to work with my oldest daughter's mom. And there were other issues there, you know, and I would be kind of in the background hanging out at a mutual friend's house just to see my daughter, but we, you know, she didn't know I was her dad or, you know, wow. But we were doing what we could, you know, and she had stuff going on her own too, you know, so I all the blame as far as the relationship with my daughter, you know, that's on me, because I'd made a lot of really bad choices. And so skip back to 2008, though. I'd lost my job. And I just fell back into it. And I started getting in trouble again. And there was no, there wasn't no time at all before I had ended back up in jail. I mean, it was it was fast. I was back in jail and more felonies and on my way back to prison for the second time. And this time, it was two years. And, you know, I was just so I was angry at the way it happened. Because I felt like I got the short end of the stick. But I was still using soy. I failed the drug test. But you know, I felt I felt defeated because you know, when I failed the drug test, I told him flat out that Yep, I'd been using. I'm going to fail. Gotta take it. So I took it I failed. They told me what they wanted I'm going to do I did every part of it. They want to be to get a counselor personal treatment I did, I went right to a Waconia, got a personal treatment counselor paid for it all out of my own pocket because I didn't have insurance. And my probation officer at that time, she still issued a warrant. And I'm like, really? So I turned myself in. I did the right thing. I stopped using, got the treatment counselor stopped using and turned myself in, and she executed my sentence. Wow. And so I was pretty bitter. I was really bitter. I was really angry. And I had to do the two years they gave me credit for time served, so I think I served
Dustin Underwood 35:49
14 months, or something like that. And they actually didn't send me to a prison. I went to St. Cloud, but then they sent me that's when the prisons were really overcrowded. Yeah. So they were contracting with private facilities or county jails. Okay. To host DLC. Yeah, prisoners
William Huffman 36:07
Department of Corrections DLC. nopcommerce for
Dustin Underwood 36:10
folks. And so they sent me to Wilmer can do high county jail. Way Out West like, where's Wilmer? Yeah, I hadn't a clue. And this, we were the first ones to get there from DRC. So they had nothing set up for guys like us as far as any curriculum. is, that is one thing that the DRC does is they try to provide some kind of curriculum jobs or, you know, like, St. Cloud, they make all the license plates for state of Minnesota. Faribault makes all them foil, really cool looking balloons that you buy for Happy birthday or have mylar balloons? Or anagram? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So Faribault prison. They actually make them in a facility down there. So they have these jobs and stuff for you can go to school, so they try to have some kind of curriculum for you. Well, we were the first ones to go to Wilmer. So they didn't have nothing. And I've always been an artsy kind of guy. I've done tattoos. And I've always been a drawer. You know, I used to draw. I was one thing I always loved to do. So when we got to Wilmer, they were trying to figure out things for us to do and one of the lead directors in there. He was a huge photographer of wildlife. And he was a hunter, and you know, so he had these outdoor aspects to him. And he's like, You guys want to paint decoys? Like, yeah, you know, they're gonna pay us to paint decoys. Cool, let's do it. You know? And at this point
William Huffman 37:49
were you liking because now you're a pretty I presume? I know, you're an avid ice Fisher person? did was that like something you've always been passionate about? Or? Yep,
Dustin Underwood 37:59
I've always fish. So like I said, when we were always going to aisle in the summer and stuff. We were always fishing. Okay. Okay. That's one thing that you know, even even with my mom in the room, abusive relationships that she was in and stuff like that growing up. His family had a cabin on malach Lake and Waukon. So we are always up there on weekends. And you know, and then summertime, so, so yeah, fishing has always been okay. Part of life. And so we were in Willmar. And their their idea to get us to something to do was to paint decoys until they could set up other classes like a concrete masonary class or in a gym, you know, learn how to do brick work, or, you know, whatever, some kind of curriculum. So we started painting these decoys. And the director had seen how good I was at it. And he's like, man, you really painting some pretty cool decoys? I mean, I'm hand painting, I'm putting like 40 hours into a decoy. And he's like, you want to do a wood duck? And I was like, What's a wood duck? You know, I don't know what a wood duck is. And I'd looked up a wood duck. And I was like, God, that's a pretty bird. Yeah, it is. Yeah, they were pretty bird. And I'm like, Well, let's try it. You know, I had no idea if I was gonna be able to do it. So I ended up painting one, and it turned out awesome. And he's like, you want to do one more? And I was like, Yeah, I'll do another one. Well, then they ended up auctioning those off for United Children's Fund. Okay. And then they kept one for, like, in the entryway of the jail facility. I don't know if it's still there was on display before but we're gonna have to find out. I don't know if it's still there. But I think Mark was the director's name too, if I remember right. But then they really liked how I how artistic I was. So then they're like, Hey, you wanna? You want to paint a mural in the jail? And I'm like, really? Like, yeah, you want to paint a mural in the jail. We'll get you some scaffolding and whenever But he locks down, you can come out set up the scaffolding and the big projector lights and stuff like that. And I thought, yeah, I'll do it. You know, this is my commissary money, you know what I mean? And so, you know, every night at lockdown, everybody locked down and I go get this big rolling scaffolding and I'd roll it all tonight set up the projector screen, and I painted this mural on the wall in the jail. And this was in one of the biggest dorms in there. And it was like an old sea scroll. Okay, yeah, the paper. And it was a writing on there. And it said, if you keep on doing what you have been doing, he will keep on getting what you have been getting. He wants to change what you have been getting in life, you need to change what you've been doing. And everyone in the jail thought that was the coolest thing. Because they they'd sit in their windows in their cells, and they'd watch me paint this whole thing out. And then I was up to get shipped out because I was down to like my last two months of time, okay. And they needed to ship me to a facility to give me some kind of directive for my release. And so they sent me back down to fair bolt, I didn't have enough time to do their treatment program again. So they decided to give me work release. And so I chose to go to Meeker County Jail. It's out in Litchfield, and I didn't know what I was going to do. From there on out. I got to meet your county jail. Again. We were one of the first people there from the Department of Corrections, because this is about 2010. Yeah, right around there. Okay. And my timeline might be a little off. That's all good. It's so much stuff. Yeah. But so I got to Meeker County Jail, and
Dustin Underwood 41:49
out of it been 2009. Now they think about it. I got to meet your county jail. And I didn't have anything. I didn't have a vehicle. I didn't have a license. I'd never you know, I hadn't had a license in years. Because I'd been driving without a license got it got yanked for me for not paying child support. Right. Okay. Yeah, no sense. So I didn't have a license or nothing. And I'd called my cousin and aunt and I said, Hey, you guys bring me a bicycle, because I was walking. And I'd walked from the Meeker County Jail, like three and a half miles to this company that someone told me was hiring, I'd walked there one day, I was allowed to get out for eight hours for the day to go apply for work. And I'd walk there one day, and I went and applied and they gave me the job. And I walked back, and I thought, Man, I ain't gonna be able to walk this every day. Right? How am I gonna make it there on time, you know, and so they brought me a bike. And I was riding there in the middle of the winter, you know, riding a bicycle out to work, but I had a job and the job really liked me. They liked my work, work ethic, you know, I started at the bottom of the chain and moved up. And by the time I was done, and at the end of my work release period, you know, I was running the bobcat in the plant, you know, doing all the big stuff. And but I couldn't stay in Meeker County, I couldn't stay in Litchfield, I had nothing to go to there. Right. Like the jail was your house, the jail was my house, and I didn't know anybody there, you know, you know, and I was just trying to pay for my work release. Obviously, child supports coming out of my checks. And barely just enough for, you know, a few munchies for the weekend, the jail is really had. And so I went to my cousin's house son work, or once I got released from work release. And things are just kind of up and down there and didn't really work. And it's family. So you know, you have your moments.
William Huffman 43:46
Yeah, there's another layer there.
Dustin Underwood 43:48
And it wasn't working. So right back in it, I want. Wow. And this time, I got really bad. Like, really, really bad. Like I was, I was running the streets and just, you know, now I had three kids, and I wasn't seeing any of them. And I was this big fuckup so to speak, excuse my language, no, you're fine. But that's what I was, you know, I was in and that was in my head. And, you know, my mom, she wanted to see me doing good, but she didn't know what to do. And, and my dad obviously still not around and, you know, I had all this all this stuff going on. And I just I really went off the deep end and then started dabbling with really large amounts of meth. Okay. And that was my lifestyle. It was non stop running around selling drugs, you know, doing just dumb stuff. You know, I wasn't out stealing from anybody or anything like that. It was just just running around, and I had a lot of drugs and I was selling drugs, and I was making a lot of money. So life was good. And, and I'd met Melissa. And, you know, who wouldn't want that? You know what I mean? Who wouldn't want that lifestyle where you can just go pay cash for a vehicle, or, you know what I mean, and not occur in the world, obviously, people are paying attention. Because obviously, I had a lot of attention on me. But I didn't care. You know, I was doing what I want to I was living the life, you know, like, I was feeling good. And, but really, I wasn't like, inside I was, so I was so sick of it. And, I mean, I was falling asleep at the wheel driving off the road. I mean, because it was just nonstop, like it was every day, never sleeping, always driving around, going to meet someone make some more money, you know what I mean? And it was, but I was so sick of it. I really was like, I was just, I was so done, being who I was. And December 5 2011. I was in Fridley. And I'd left a friend's house. And I drove north up 65. I got to grandi, Minnesota, just north of Cambridge. And I'd went to a friend's house and there was a few other people there. And I didn't know the circumstances surrounding them. Because they were involved in stealing stuff and all kinds, you know, stuff that revolves around the drugs. And I didn't know that. And I'd went there that night. And the whole, the whole city of grandi. It's not real big, it's pretty small. It's just a little hole in the wall tone button. There was actually cops stationed all around the city, basically watching this girl's house. And I was there, because I had the drugs. And she had gotten in my truck with me and Melissa, and we left there. And as soon as I pulled out of her driveway seen lights behind me, headlights, this is like a 12 o'clock at night, you know, going into 12 Six. And I got to the tee in the road where there was a stop sign. And then I see more headlights coming from the right of that road. And I had the lights behind me. And I'd pulled out. And as soon as I pulled out, it was like a train of vehicles got in right behind me. And all I seen was cop lights. Now, they didn't really have a reason to pull me over. And this actually is what saved my life in the long run. They hit their lights, I made a left onto a dirt minimum maintenance road and pulled over. And they told me to get out of the vehicle. And I'd gotten out of the vehicle, I knew the routine. I knew the window down hands out of the vehicle, open the door with your left hand and push the door open with your elbow, you know and and I had my hands up in the air and I was walking to the back of the vehicle backwards. And they'd slammed me on the ground and bounced my face off the ground. And you could hear me screaming Yo, what the fuck did you do that for? Like, I wasn't resisting or anything? You know what I mean? So they've arrested me and then
Dustin Underwood 48:42
put me in the squad car. And they kept asking if they could search a vehicle and said no. And in all reality, they should let Melissa just take my truck and drive away. Because it turned out I had a misdemeanor warrant or something. I can't remember what it was. But they wanted to search the vehicle. Because they had a hunch. While they didn't have I mean, they had more than a hunch they had heard through the grapevine what I was doing and you know what I mean? But they never let Melissa leave with the vehicle. And the other girl in the vehicle whose house it was that we left? She'd actually she'd copped a deal. That's why the cops were actually in town. Okay, because they had busted her prior. Nobody really heard about it. And so she knew the cops were actually there. And so they took her and took her away and then they detain Melissa as well. And they detained us until the drug dog from Anoka County showed up. Oh, wow. Okay, so almost two hours. We were sitting in the back of the squad cars waiting for a drug dog because they knew, you know, their hunch told them that something was in the vehicle. Yeah, she took Yeah, they knew. Yeah, they knew. And so the drug dog showed up and of course Hit on the vehicle. And I they found everything in the vehicle. They found the pipes and they found 36 grams of meth.
William Huffman 50:10
I know over someone like me like, I don't I'm assuming that's a lot that that is that is a lot. Yeah, I'm not to. Yeah, yeah, jury if you're gonna get not to that is a lot. Yeah, not too late. So in the movies they always say like, let's get an eight ball of coke. That's like 3.75 grams typically or three, seven, whatever. I'm not a mathematician on that. Ah, let this Oh, that's a that's a shit ton 1010 gram. That's a lot. Wow. Yeah,
Dustin Underwood 50:42
yep. So they found 36 grams in the in the truck. And that's more than an ounce, right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And, yeah, as well. You know, they found it. And like I said, I was. But something in me. I was so relieved.
William Huffman 51:02
Dustin Underwood 51:04
I know, it's weird. Because me, you know, my, my criminal mind immediately. I'm thinking I know what that is. I know, that's a first degree. Oh, yeah, I intend to, yeah, first degree in whatever else they want to add to it. Um, so in my mind, I, you know, in the back of my mind, I knew that it was serious. And I knew what my criminal history was. And I knew how the sentencing guidelines worked.
William Huffman 51:31
And this is all going through your head in the car, the cop car.
Dustin Underwood 51:35
And, and also, the other criminal part of me is going through my head in the car, like, you can't get into that you can't search my vehicle, right? I mean, so. And I was pissed, because they slam my head off the ground for no reason to like, you know, like, I didn't disobey anything. Like, you know, I knew it was done. I knew I was done. Oh, yeah. And so they brought us to the jail, they found the drugs, they brought us to the jail. And at the same time, they were arresting and hitting everyone that was still at the house.
William Huffman 52:10
Oh, wow, has a raid.
Dustin Underwood 52:13
But so everyone that was at the house, you know, they got arrested, because, you know, they were out robbing people's houses and stealing stuff and selling it to get money to buy the drugs. And you know, it's just a vicious cycle. It really is. And so then we all end up at the Isanti county jail? A bunch of us. And we all know each other.
Sarah Huffman 52:54
Can I ask a question? When you end up at the Isanti county jail? Are you all in the same room? Or do they separate? You all
Dustin Underwood 53:00
were in separate cells? Okay, but it's bars, one common area, correct. One common area, separate cells, separate cells, Door Door shots, but then there's one common area like tables, you can play cards. Yeah. And in the holding cells, so you're pretty close. There's like just one hallway in the holding cells. And then there's a bunch of cells on each side. So we can all talk to each other. Okay, that was my passion. And that actually proved to be like, really bad for us, because then they ended up getting all pissed and because we were all talking, you know, and, and the only person that wasn't there was Andrea. Who, so then we figured out
William Huffman 53:38
what happened. Yeah, pretty pretty quickly.
Dustin Underwood 53:42
And I was just, I was worried. I'd been up for like, 35 days straight. Like I was just I was spent, and I crashed hard. Like, they moved us they split us up. And I mean, I was out instantly, like, I slept hard, and they ended up waking me up, and they wanted me to sign up, they brought in breakfast. And I was still pissed. They brought in breakfast, and they wanted me to sign this release form to give up my truck and everything in it. And I remember taking the breakfast tray and throwing it at them and told them I wasn't signage, shit, you know, because I still remember him slamming me off the ground and all this other stuff. And so I was still mad. But then I knew the seriousness of the charge. And as soon as I got booked in officially and put into your common dorm or whatever it is, me being in jail in prison so many times I went got the Minnesota sentencing guideline book right away and looked up and do my points and see where I was at and what I was actually looking at. And the minimum was 120 months.
William Huffman 54:56
Dustin Underwood 54:58
So that's 10 years, right? minimum 10 years minimum. And I didn't know how I was going to beat this. I really didn't. And I was still relieved. You know, I was relieved. I was done running around, oh my god, I was so sick or running around. I was so sick of being up every night. I was so sick of trying to find a place to sleep when I was ready to finally sleep. And like, I was really sick a lot of life I really was, but I didn't know what else to do. And they charged me with the drugs. And then they charged Melissa with the drugs as well, because she was within arm's reach of the drugs in the vehicle.
Dustin Underwood 55:41
And then I found out Melissa was pregnant. Wow. And Melissa's dad had bailed her out. Me they weren't so nice with they put a three quarter million dollar bail on me.
William Huffman 55:58
And that's a serious about
Dustin Underwood 56:00
when it's really serious. Because I mean, I'm sure you've seen cases on TV. Yeah. Where people have killed people in there. Yeah, with 300,000. So it was it was one of them things where I wasn't getting out. There was no way I was getting out. And I was bailed out on a fifth degree that was still pending at the same time. And someone kept telling me Teen Challenge. Minnesota Teen Challenge. It's a treatment facility in Minneapolis. And I just wanted to go to Teen Challenge. I knew I knew it wasn't just some 30 Day Program, or a 60 day program. You know, with your basic a steps, and I don't knock none of that. You know, whatever works for someone getting out of addiction. That's great. Yeah, yeah. Um, but I knew I needed something hardcore. Like, like this was it? Uh, yeah, I needed something hardcore. So if I, you know, if I got the chance I was going to stick with it. And Teen Challenge was where I was going to go. And I've always been kind of spiritual. My grandpa always went to church and stuff like that. So you know, I've always believed in God, don't necessarily go to church. I considered the lake my church. Okay. That's where I'm, I lose myself. And I'm just spiritual on the lake and I de stress and decompress. And so you know, I've always been spiritual. And you know, I had prayed about it. In in the jail when I was in the jail, I prayed about it. And I just said, you know, I just want to be calm. I prayed to be calm, and I just prayed for some kind of answer, that things were going to be okay. Because there's a lot going on, like, Melissa is pregnant, they're charging her with first degree possession like this. This is huge. Like your, your first defense is prison. Doesn't matter if you got to clean his right. Like, she's gonna go to prison, and she's pregnant. And so I prayed for just some kind of resolve to the situation. And I had this recovery Bible. And I'll never forget this. I'd been reading the Bible. So I I'm in here, and I ended up sitting six months. I'm in the jail, and I don't know what's going to happen. I know that it's serious. I have a I have a really serious public defender that is fighting for me. And telling me hey, you know, there's hope. One, they didn't have a reason to stop you to they went beyond the means of a traffic stop to conduct a drug investigation, which they had no reason to. And, you know, so I had some things in my corner going for me that I held on to for hope, you know what I mean? Because I was the first one on on trial for any of this, Melissa, and, and they actually charged Andrea in the background with the same drugs to just to kind of make it look legit. But where do you know what happened? Yeah. But I was the first one on trial for this stuff. And so I knew that whatever happened with me what's going to dictate what happened with Melissa and Andrea? And I remember I was reading Romans, I was actually in the book of Romans and I was reading Romans because I would try to just go through each book, you know, I was reading a lot. And I prayed for some kind of answer some kind of sign. I know that sounds cliche, but I heard good I. I prayed for some kind of answer. And in this recovery Bible, on the sides of the pages, there's always these quotes or things that have to do with what that scripture in the Bible is talking about. And I'd prayed for a couple days. And then one morning I woke up, and I flipped open to where I'd left off. And I'd actually left off and left my bookmark. On the page I finished normally, I flip it and put it in where I'm going to start. And I opened it up, pulled the bookmark out, I flip the page, and on that right hand column, it said, dismiss not guilty. And I was like, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. I was like, Is that for me? You know, like, wow. And we'd had trial the next week. And that's when all the evidence was going to be presented, you know, on my behalf and the questioning of the officers and all this stuff. And
Dustin Underwood 1:00:48
we did the case. We did them both at the same time. Like I said, I had a fifth degree and the first degree panning at the same time. So we did them both, we questioned all the officers, all that stuff. And then the judge had up to 90 days to become to come back with a decision on whether or not to suppress the evidence in the case. Okay. In both cases, because I was fighting on both. And the fifth degree. Yeah, I pretty much knew I was probably going to be right. So well on now. Yeah. But the first degree I didn't know and the way my attorney was talking, she like she gave me a lot of hope. And she's just a public defender. And if anyone knows about this system, public defenders, they get a bad rap. Yeah, yep.
William Huffman 1:01:32
They sure can. Absolutely.
Dustin Underwood 1:01:34
You know what I mean? Like, oh, no, they're getting paid by the state. They work for the state. You know, that's not necessarily true. I mean, you know, I mean, it happens, but they get a bad rap. And I had this lady that really just went to the ends of the earth for me on this case. And the judge had 90 days on both to come back with a decision. And you know, this whole time I'd made a commitment with myself, God, every everyone that no matter what happens, I'm going to Team Challenge. Like, okay, that's my commitment, because I know I need some kind of serious, serious change. And it was two weeks.
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