DETROIT (WWJ/AP) –  The Michigan appeals court has put the brakes on a new sentence for the one-time teenage drug dealer known as “White Boy Rick”  who has been in prison for nearly 30 years.

The appeals court on Tuesday overturned a decision by a Wayne County judge that likely would have led to Richard Wershe’s release.

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[View the order by the Michigan Court of Appeals]

“He’s spent 28 years in jail while they’ve been paroling robbers, rapists and murders,” said his attorney, Ralph Musilli, who calls the appeals court’s decision absurd.

Wershe, 46, has been in prison since he was 18. He was convicted of possessing more than 650 grams of cocaine and sentenced to life without parole.

His 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.

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Musilli claims 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.  The Michigan constitution was later amended to lighten up sentences for nonviolent offenders — yet Wershe’s release has continued to be denied.

“You have to give them a reasonable expectation of release, OK?” said Musilli. “They’re saying. well, it’s life with parole. His case has been in front of the parole board, in one guise or another, six times in the last 12 years — and each time they’ve said we’re not gonna give you any consideration, and the last five times they’ve said we don’t even have to tell you why.”

The appeals court maintains that Wershe was given a “valid sentence,” and any attempt to give him a new sentence conflicts with the powers of the parole board.

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