DETROIT (WWJ) – After spending the last 29 years in prison, “White Boy Rick” gets another shot at freedom.
Rick Wershe, Jr. met with the head of the state parole board in Manistee, Mich. for a 45 minute pre-parole interview on Tuesday. The 47-year-old has been in jail since he was 18 for possession with intent to deliver more than 650 grams of cocaine, the longest term for any inmate sentenced as a juvenile.
“I believe it went very, very well,” Ralph Musilli, Wershe’s attorney, told WWJ’s Zahra Huber. “He was asking questions of Richard about his background, his involvement in crime, what he intended to do when he got out, what his support system was like, and Rick answered them all candidly, truthfully.”
Wershe had a single parole hearing in 2003 and Musilli says the last time his client was granted a pre-parole interview was in 2009, but with no further consideration. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has said she no longer objects to Wershe’s possible parole, which is considered a hopeful sign.
Wershe’s story made headlines around the world when he infiltrated local drug gangs at the tender age of 13 — at the request of Detroit police and FBI agents — and turned in evidence that convicted 14 dealers and gangsters, including some of the biggest drug dealers in Detroit history.
“You would have thought that Richard Wershe, Jr. was a major drug dealer, a major drug kingpin that was controlling the drug trade in the city of Detroit,” said Musilli, “which all is not true.”
Musilli claimed that as a direct result of Wershe’s help, the FBI was able to infiltrate a gang of Detroit police officers that was transporting drugs from the Wayne County Airport to the streets of the city’s east side.
The then-baby-faced teen was sentenced to mandatory life prison under the state’s strict cocaine dealing laws. Michigan’s constitution was later amended to lighten up sentences for nonviolent offenders — yet Wershe’s release has continued to be denied.
If Wershe is released, he will have to serve 22 months in Florida before he’s truly free, after pleading guilty to multiple charges in a stolen-car scheme.
“He’s a got a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Musilli. “They take a vote as to whether to go to a full hearing and give him full consideration. And I’m assuming that that will take anywhere from three to four months. I’m anticipating that if he is given a parole hearing, a full public hearing, it will be in late June or July.”