Rick Wershe granted parole 29 years after life sentence for cocaine

After spending the past three decades in prison, the Michigan Parole Board voted unanimously on Friday in favor of parole for Richard Wershe.

Wershe, who was known on the streets as "White Boy Rick," has been in prison for 29 years for drug crimes committed when he was a teenager. He turns 48 next week.

Holly Kramer with the Michigan DOC said that Wershe no longer is a threat to the public.

"After a careful consideration and extensive review of Richard Wershe's case and his public testimony, the parole board has decided that he no longer poses a threat to soceity and has voted to grant parole," Kramer said on Friday.

'White Boy Rick' Wershe tells parole board 'I'll never sell drugs again'

He was 17 when he was caught with cocaine. Police said Wershe had stashed nearly $30,000 and about 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) of the drug.  Wershe had worked as an FBI informant and reported corrupt Detroit police officers but wasn't given leniency.

At the time of his sentencing in 1988, the drug crimes he committed carried a mandatory life sentence. He was 17 at the time.

Since his imprisonment in 1988, Michigan repealed the lifer law for drug dealers. The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that life sentences for juveniles was not constitutional.

Despite that, Wershe remained in prison.


Wershe was sentenced to life in prison in 1988. The sentence was later changed to give him a shot at parole. In June, he told parole board members that he's been rehabilitated and knows drugs destroy communities.

"I know the drugs that I sold destroyed people's lives," he said. "I can't take it back. It's destroyed my life. I'll never sell drugs again."

"All I can give you is my word that I'll never commit another crime," he said. "If you don't want to believe me, I understand. I'm a criminal. But all I can give you is my word as a man."

Now, White Boy Rick is expected to go to Florida next. He may have to serve another 22 months in a Florida prison for his involvement in a car theft scheme. If he is sent to Florida to serve that time, at no point will he be considered a "free man" during his transfer.

"He has a sentence to serve in Florida. He will be released from Michigan's custody as early as mid august. Then Florida authorities will make arrangements to come pick him up," Kramer said.

Wershe was sentenced to serve five years in prison in Florida after being convicted on racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering charges in 2006.  The crimes happened while he was incarcerated in Florida as part of the federal witness protection program. 

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office released the following statement after receiving the news of Wersche's parole Friday:

"The position of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office is that this is a decision that has been made by the parole board and that we have no further position. We respect and accept the decision of the parole board."

Wershe's attorney, Ralph Musilli, hopes to persuade Florida officials to give him credit for his time in Michigan.