DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The Michigan parole board has decided that Rick Wershe, also known as “White Boy Rick,” will be released from prison after nearly 30 years.
The decision was released Friday.
Wershe, who turns 48 next week, won’t immediately be released. The Department of Corrections says there are “administrative processes” that have to happen, including alerting the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office to the parole decision. The prosecutor’s office could appeal the decision; however, Prosecutor Kym Worthy has said she no longer objects to Wershe’s possible parole, which is considered a hopeful sign.
“Oh, my goodness, he’s probably trying to run laps wherever he is,” a niece, Gabby Wershe, said. “We’re in the home stretch. He’ll be home soon.”
Wershe could be released as soon as mid-August. After that, he would have to serve 22 months in Florida before he’s truly free, after pleading guilty to multiple charges in a stolen-car scheme. State officials say it’s up to Florida to come get Wershe when he’s released. His attorney, Ralph Musilli, hopes to persuade Florida officials to give him credit for his time in Michigan.
Wershe was 17 when he was caught with cocaine; police said he had stashed nearly $30,000 and about 15 pounds of the drug. He says he had worked as an FBI informant and reported corrupt Detroit police officers but wasn’t given leniency.
Wershe was convicted of possessing more than 650 grams of cocaine in 1988 and sentenced to life in prison. The sentence was later changed to give him a shot at parole. Although he was eligible, the parole board declined to released him. In 2015, a judge said Wershe was entitled to a shorter sentence, but that decision was overturned.
In June, Wershe told parole board members that he’s been rehabilitated.
“I know that the drugs I sold destroyed people’s lives,” Wershe told the parole board in June. “I can’t take it back.”
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.
His longtime attorney claims that, as a direct result of Wershe’s help, the FBI was able to crack a gang of Detroit cops 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. The Michigan constitution was later amended to lighten up sentences for nonviolent offenders — yet Wershe’s release was continually denied.
The actor Matthew McConaughey visited Wershe in March. He’s expected to portray Wershe’s father in a movie about the convict’s life.
© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.