White Boy Rick, Rick Wershe, white boy Rick prison, white boy Rick free

(WWJ) A man who spent his youth in the back alleys of Detroit ensnared in a life of crime will soon be free to become a law-abiding soccer dad, worried about the grandkids’ homework and mowing the lawn.

What’s next for one of Michigan’s most notorious convicts, Rick “White Boy” Wershe? That’s a question yet to be answered. The Michigan Parole Board voted Friday to release Wershe, 46, who has been in prison for close to 30 years for drug crimes committed as a teenager.

At the time he was sent to prison at 17, he was already a father to two, with a third on the way.

“Imagine, it just, it stuns to think about that,” his attorney Ralph Musilli told WWJ. “And so now he has a chance of living the rest of his life as a normal human being.”

Musilli said he called Wershe immediately after the parole board announced its decision and said simply, “we won.” “He is just overwhelmed and relieved,” the attorney said. “I mean this is just a total emotional release for him. I don’t think anybody can imagine spending 30 years out of the middle of your life in 8 by 10 cells.”

Mandatory drug sentencing laws that have since been overturned kept him behind bars longer than some who had committed brutal murder. There was also talk that politicians and cops who felt betrayed when he switched from high-level juvenile drug informant to street dealer worked to keep him behind bars.

“It’s the rainbow at the end of just a horrific three decades of imprisonment and I think he said it best, I would the last, at least the least 20 years he’s been doing time for the crime he wasn’t convicted of, and that’s unfortunate part.”

So Wershe will be a free man, but will he be safe? Wershe’s friend Scott Burnstein, who is also a reporter, author, and local mob expert, thinks he’ll have to stay alert.

“All things being even, he’s definitely got to be more careful than the average Joe, the average person coming out of prison that doesn’t have the notoriety he has,” Burnstein said. “He upset a lot of people back then and when he was locked up, cooperating with the government. He cooperated with the government for three years when he was a teenager and he cooperated again for another dozen years when he was in prison.”

In June, Wershe told the parole board he was rehabilitated and knows drugs destroy communities. He gave a rare interview to the Detroit news in February where he said he regretted his youthful actions. “I was a child. You brought me into a lifestyle. I was blinded by the money. I was blinded by the women. Do I regret it? Absolutely.”

The movie of his life, starring Matthew McConaughey, is set for release in January.

And there’s still the matter of charges he faces in Florida. Wershe pleaded guilty 11 years ago to racketeering and conspiracy to move stolen cars in Florida. A crime he committed while locked up. A motion to set him free without serving additional time for the Florida charges is pending in the sunshine state and Musilli hopes a judge will rule that time was served concurrently with his Michigan sentence.

“If I was a betting man, I would say he’s probably going to have to go down to Florida and finish out two years there,” Burnstein said. “Hopefully not, but I would guess that’s probably where it’s headed right now. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen.”

Comments (2)
  1. “The news media bear a lot of the responsibility for the violation of Wershe’s Eighth Amendment rights regarding cruel and unusual punishment. Reporters, editors and TV news directors have consistently failed to fact-check, to find the hard-fact basis for routinely describing this man in news coverage as a “drug lord” and “kingpin.” It is journalistic irresponsibility at its worst.

    For those who do not know, the Big Lie is a concept developed by the German dictator Adolph Hitler. “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed,” Hitler said. He believed if you tell a lie of colossal proportions and repeat it often, people will assume no one would have the audacity to distort the truth to such a degree so it must be true.

    The urban myth that White Boy Rick Wershe was a drug dealer operating at the “kingpin” level in Detroit is a Big Lie repeated often, without question, by several generations of reporters and editors based on nothing.

    The decades-long failure of numerous reporters to verify claims of a white “drug lord” in mostly black Detroit who was 16 to 18 years old. This is journalistic dereliction of duty of historic proportions. Overblown claims about Rick Wershe’s importance in the Detroit drug underworld don’t pass the smell test.

    Journalism schools could offer courses on how shoddy fact-checking and the herd habit of rewriting each other’s Wershe stories aided and abetted what appears to be an audacious vendetta to keep this man in prison until he dies because he helped the FBI investigate and prosecute drug-tainted political corruption in Detroit.” – http://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/13306/vince_wade_detroit_media_smears_against_richard_wershe_jr_stretch_27_years#.WW6PEfmU0rg

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