At age 14, Richard Wershe Jr. became the youngest FBI informant in history. Three years later, he got a life sentence on a cocaine possession conviction.
Now 49, Wershe, also known as 'White Boy Rick,' is nearing the end of his time behind bars. On Thursday, he received a new release date of Nov. 25, 2020, from a Florida correctional institution, WDIV in Detroit reported.
The story of White Boy Rick and his journey to the Putnam Correctional Institution in East Palatka, Fla., goes back more than three decades. It began when he was a teen in Michigan, where Detroit police were paying him to expose local drug dealers, WDIV reported in their investigation and podcast series.
Wershe earned the nickname White Boy Rick because of his activities in a predominantly African-American community in 1980s Detroit.
Wershe was snitched on, got shot and eventually had the police abandon him. Then, he began selling drugs himself. By 17, he was convicted of possessing more than 650 grams of cocaine and sentenced to life in prison under Michigan's now-repealed "650 Lifer Law." Wershe is the only convict still in prison who was convicted under that law, which former governor William Milliken later called the “worst mistake of my career” for signing.
So, why is Wershe in a Florida prison if he was convicted in Michigan?
About 12 years ago, Wershe pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy to move stolen cars in Florida, WDIV reported. The Detroit station said Wershe pleaded guilty to protect his sister and mother from charges.
A Martin County Circuit Court affidavit from 2005 said Wershe was one of the "prison inmates serving as brokers" in the stolen car ring that operated out of Miami-Dade, Broward, Jackson, Volusia and Martin counties. The document said stolen vehicles were transported through every county on Florida's east coast as the property was being sent up Interstate 95 to Virginia Beach.
The affidavit said the vehicles were stolen in South Florida, renumbered and then shipped to out-of-state buyers with fraudulent state titles.
Wershe was granted parole on the Michigan first offense drug charges in 2017. He's been imprisoned in Florida since September 2017.
This isn't the first time Wershe's release date has been changed. He was originally scheduled to be released on April 20, 2021. That date got moved to Dec. 25, 2020, before being moved up another month.
WDIV said his release date can be moved up again depending on Wershe's good behavior.
Wershe became the father of two children before his conviction at the age of 17, the Guardian reports. He now has six grandchildren.
“I’ve never got to take them to school, I’ve never go to do anything with them,” he told the Guardian in a 2015 interview. “They threw me away like a piece of garbage. I’m a human being, I have a life, I have a family.”
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