Skip to content

Infamous former drug kingpin ‘White Boy’ Rick granted parole

Richard ‘White Boy Rick’ Wershe Jr. (Michigan Department of Corrections)

After spending nearly three decades in prison, infamous former drug kingpin Richard Wershe Jr., known as “White Boy” Rick, has been granted parole.

His controversial case came to an end on Friday, July 14, 2017, when a Michigan parole board of ten voted unanimously to parole Wershe after 29 years behind bars.

The 47-year-old was sentenced to life in prison in 1988 when he was only 17 years old. He was convicted for the possession of 650 grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

After being a 14-year informant for the FBI, Wershe joined the drug-game for himself and eventually ended up getting caught.

He is the longest serving juvenile, non-violent drug offender in the history of Michigan. And during his time in prison, he cooperated with the FBI to help send a dozen corrupt police officers to prison — including a few Detroit city officials.

During a hearing in early June, Wershe admitted, “I know that the drugs I sold destroyed people’s lives, and I can’t take it back.”

Wershe will remain in the Michigan Department of Corrections’ custody until mid August. Once released, he still has to face a Florida circuit judge because of a guilty plea to two felonies in connection with a stolen-car scheme. He admitted to trying to help his sister make money by buying and selling stolen cars. Wershe was put in a federal witness protection program in a Florida prison during the time he was cooperating with the FBI agents to bust the corrupt police officers.

No matter the outcome of the verdict in Florida, the soon to be 48-year-old is extremely excited about the possibilities.

“I’m coming home. I feel overwhelmed with joy,” is what he said on a phone call with his attorney, adding that it’s the best birthday gift in the world.

The controversial story of White Boy Rick has gained national attention and inspired books, documentaries, and a movie starring Matthew McConaughey as Wershe’s father, which is set to release next January.



  1. Aslan on July 18, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    “After being a 14-year informant for the FBI” I think this should read “After being a 14-year-OLD informant..”

  2. Dave Majkowski on July 19, 2017 at 2:12 am

    “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.” –

  3. Dave Majkowski on July 19, 2017 at 2:12 am

    “Detroit media coverage of the story of Richard Wershe, Jr., better known to the public as White Boy Rick thanks to relentless media use of that nickname, has been deplorable, shoddy and often wrong for close to 30 years. The inexcusable erroneous reporting calling him a “drug lord” and “kingpin” is one of the reasons Wershe has been in prison since age 18. Detroit’s news media owes it to this man to finally tell his story correctly.”

  4. Dave Majkowski on July 19, 2017 at 2:12 am

    Free Rick Wershe!! More info:

  5. Jason on July 19, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    I know most will disagree with me but Michigan got it right. Normally I would say his sentence was harsh but, this guy is a turd and he proved why he is unworthy of being let out of his cage. He couldn’t even stay out of trouble while in prison. Hopefully Florida keeps him his entire sentence. He’ll be back no doubt about it.

    • Dave Majkowski on July 20, 2017 at 3:00 am

      “While he was in WitSec in Florida, Wershe made another bad decision. He got wind of a used-car arrangement on the outside. Wershe figured it was a good way to help his mother and sister get a car. It turned out to be a scam and Wershe got busted and was charged. He pled guilty and was sentenced for a new crime and evicted from the WitSec program and returned to the Michigan prison system.

      Eagen asked Wershe about this in the interview. Wershe explained what happened and Musilli interjected, noting the Florida prosecutor had threatened to prosecute Rick’s mother and sister if he tried to go to trial. Arguably, Wershe was coerced in to pleading guilty. His court-appointed Florida lawyer had no experience in criminal cases. He was there to fulfill a legal requirement for sentencing…and to collect a fee from the court.

      Moreover, Florida charged Wershe with racketeering when the rest of the co-conspirators were essentially charged with possession of stolen property. Most of the others in the case were given probation and restitution. Wershe was given a five-year sentence to be served consecutively with his life prison term in Michigan.

      In other words, if he gets paroled in Michigan, he may still have to do five years in a Florida prison. But Wershe and his lawyers are fighting one battle at a time.

      In the Florida case, there are suspicions Michigan officials urged the Florida Attorney General’s office to “throw the book” at Wershe as part of the continuing vendetta against him for helping the FBI prosecute public corruption in Detroit and Wayne County. On its face, the case against Wershe in Florida is totally out of sync with all of the other defendants charged in that case.

      The Florida Attorney General brought charges against Wershe in Martin County. Wershe had never been to Martin County, but it is known as perhaps the harshest criminal punishment court in the State of Florida. When Wershe was brought to Martin County for arraignment and he told the county jail matrons why he was there, they told him, “Honey, they brought you here to this county because they want to hang your ass.” They meant that figuratively, but the jail matrons were being straight with him about harsh justice being the norm in their county. The Florida case is another battle for another day. For now, the focus is on Michigan.”

      • Jason on July 20, 2017 at 10:22 am

        Like I said this guy is a turd and should’ve never been paroled. He proved his unworthiness to be a functioning member of society by committing another felony while in prison. I don’t care what his excuse is. Every other member of society knows you don’t rob, cheat,and steal. The first thing Mr. Wershe needs to learn is life isn’t fair, get over it. It’s irreverent what his co-conspirators were charged with. If you’re not prepared to do the time then don’t commit the crime. I believe without a doubt this turd will be back in the system. Total waste of skin.

  6. Dave Majkowski on July 20, 2017 at 3:01 am

    “Aguirre feels that Wershe has suffered for his fame. “Other colleagues on the board—and I have great respect for all of them—all remember him as White Boy Rick. He has that image that was placed upon him.” It’s a theory that suggests a strange inversion of the typical effect of race: Wershe’s celebrity had been a function of his novelty as a teenage white kid who had somehow skipped across Detroit’s racial boundary and insinuated himself into the ranks of drug barons who were overwhelmingly black. And this very celebrity earned him a longer term behind bars than nearly all the others eventually served. I was somewhat taken aback when B.J. Chambers offered unprompted his view of Wershe’s case: “I think—just my opinion—I think Rick is caught up in reverse racism.” Wershe, he went on, “was the only white boy that ever sold dope in the neighborhood at that time.” Steve Fishman, the defense attorney to ’80s Detroit kingpins, says, “If White Boy Rick had been anything other than white, nobody would ever have heard of him.”” – An excerpt from ‘The Trials of White Boy Rick’ by Evan Hughes. –

  7. Dave Majkowski on July 20, 2017 at 3:03 am

    Free Rick Wershe!! •Richard ‘Rick’ Wershe Jr started work as an FBI informant when he was 14
    •His information led to the arrest of cops and a mayor’s brother-in-law
    •But at 17, he was given life without parole for cocaine possession
    •Wershe, along with former FBI agents and attorneys, believe he is still behind bars because of the enemies he made
    •A new documentary now sheds more light on the efforts to shut him up
    •Convicted killer Nathaniel Craft says he was asked to kill Wershe by a cop (Gil Hill)
    •Hitman was then asked to cover his tracks so it wouldn’t be connected
    •Director Shawn Rech believes he became a ‘scapegoat’ for a city in decline

    Read more:

  8. Dave Majkowski on July 20, 2017 at 3:06 am

    “One reason Richard J. Wershe, Jr., better known publicly as White Boy Rick, remains in prison doing a life term for drugs, seems to be a belief among some in Detroit’s criminal justice system that Wershe was the FBI’s only source of information in the highly controversial killing of a young boy by a Detroit drug gang with political connections.

    It’s not true. Johnny Curry, the gang leader, was himself a source of information for the FBI about the murder of Damion Lucas, both at the time of the murder through things he said on a tapped telephone after the killing, and later in prison when he was interviewed by agents.

    Another source was Kevin Colbert, a member of the Curry drug gang.

    Readers of this blog know it has been slogging through the details of the rise and fall of Richard Wershe, Jr.—AKA—White Boy Rick, mostly in chronological order. Recent posts have focused on the 1985 murder of 13-year old Damion Lucas, an accidental drug-gang killing that plays a critical role in the shameful insistence of some on keeping Wershe in prison when others who did far worse have been paroled.

    This post continues the focus on the Damion Lucas killing but jumps forward in time a bit to explore what a member of the Johnny Curry drug gang told the FBI about the death of the young boy.

    Kevin Colbert—known on the street as “Weasel”—was among those indicted by a federal grand jury for his role in the Curry Brothers drug organization on Detroit’s east side. Johnny Curry and two of his brothers ran a dope dealing operation that had political connections. Curry was engaged to and then married Cathy Volsan, the attractive niece of the late Coleman Young, Detroit’s powerful mayor in that era.

    The case never went to trial. Johnny Curry and his gang pleaded guilty in exchange for shorter prison sentences. Such deals are known in federal courts as a “Rule 11.” As part of the plea deal, the defendants admit their guilt and submit to a debriefing by the FBI in which they detailed their knowledge of various elements of the criminal enterprise. These debriefings often lead to new investigations.

    FBI agent Gregg Schwarz, now retired, debriefed Kevin Colbert. FBI investigative reports are known by their bureaucratic form number—302. The 302 detailing Kevin Colbert’s debriefing includes his version of the Damion Lucas murder. This blog quotes extensively from FBI 302s and other historic investigative file reports. One reason for that is much of the Rick Wershe story is old history and memories fade. The reports in the files were written at the time the events happened.

    Schwarz, who believes Rick Wershe should have been paroled long ago, thinks the Kevin Colbert Rule 11 debriefing is significant because it shows White Boy Rick wasn’t the only one who gave information to the FBI about the Damion Lucas murder.

    The Damion Lucas case has never been solved. FBI agents believe the investigation was deliberately thwarted to protect Johnny Curry, and by extension, Cathy Volsan, the mayor’s niece. That is called obstruction of justice and it is a felony.

    The focus from the beginning has been on then-Inspector Gil Hill, the head of the Detroit Homicide section at the time. Hill was politically powerful, with connections far beyond his rank. For one thing, he was a local celebrity thanks to his role as Eddie Murphy’s tough-talking cop boss in the hit movie Beverly Hills Cop.

    Detroit is a town starved for celebrities, so when it gets one, the people cling to the star in their midst tenaciously and go to great lengths to defend him or her. If someone criticizes their local hero, many people take it personally. That translates in to political power.

    When the Damion Lucas murder happened, Gil Hill was a Detroit celebrity with political ambition. He retired from police work and ran for the Detroit City Council. He won. Eventually he became council president. He made an unsuccessful bid for mayor, too. Through it all, the FBI investigation of his possible obstruction of justice in the Damion case dogged Hill like a shadow, even after the statute of limitations for prosecuting him passed.

    Hill is retired now and reportedly in declining health. Some say he partly blames Rick Wershe for losing the mayoral election due to Wershe’s role in informing the FBI about the Curry gang involvement in the Damion Lucas murder.

    Still others speculate and theorize—and it’s important to use those terms—that law enforcement/prosecution friends of Hill have a to-this-day vendetta against Richard Wershe Jr. as a result of the FBI obstruction of justice investigation, which never resulted in an indictment or charges. Hill is a black Detroit celebrity and some believe the mostly-white FBI was just trying to discredit another black hero.” –

  9. biffula on July 20, 2017 at 11:29 am

    But I thought only blacks got unjust prison sentences???

  10. nosey rosy on July 21, 2017 at 7:00 am

    corrupt police? all these killings of black men is what you call corrupt ,they all know now how to get retired and a pay check for life and go fund me money from the kkk association , darren wilson prime example he killed mike browin in cold blood then got 300 thousand dollar from go fund me?/ to fund his life style in a new stater where people dont recogized him even? and all the rest will opt to leave , you know most cops get hired away from home anyway so they can easily go back home . if they kill somone . its a game . no matter who you are if you kill someone , someone could be set to kill you any day of your life . that is why they normally dont release names of cops in shooting unless its taken by the grand jury . only 4 in the last few years were put on trial and only 2 convicted in 4 years smh . now you wanna talk about a white boy who brough down many crooked cops? for drugs what about murder im sure they had to killl a few good men to get those drugs sold , and white boy rick is they one who can probablly bust these kkk rings

  11. nosey rosy on July 21, 2017 at 7:15 am

    that sounds about right , just because he was white in a heavy populated black detroit, they oviously was anger at him for setting an example for white boys, he was young get over it 18 is not a good age to giveanyone life in the pen , therefore you better know he was locked up , due to the shame he bought on the white ocommunity , at that time whites , though blacks were the ones being kingpins? other than al capone and sammy the bull, and gotti , whom got away with killing and drugs galore . why they mess with this man ? cheifly cause he told on corrupt cops . are we suppose to tell if we know someone is corrupt and wasnt the da suppose to strike up a deal for those testifmonies ? they treated him like they treat hundered of black men locked up who didnt ssnitch on anyone, and then gave him a street name to boot , to make it look like he some hugh crimainal when he killed nobody? lies lies , just liek they gave ojay 9 years , for nothing , he had a right to fight for his personal items we all would if our home was robbed . white justice america is all about defending whites , and white boy rick didnt have so many black friends ,and actually save a lot of black men from prison. he would be a role model . they want to make him seem like the worst cause cops were sent to prison for his testimony and hell yes he should have been let out of prison for those testimonei