A story for Daily Mail Online on the case of Richard Wershe Jr – otherwise known as White Boy Rick.
A few hours after this story was published, prosecutors in Wayne County, Michigan, announced they would be reviewing their stance on the case. DailyMail.com published the follow-up story here.
You can read the first story in full here.
A documentary has unearthed explosive claims police officers ordered a hit on a 17-year-old drug dealer turned FBI informant after helped take down corrupt cops and a mayor’s brother-in-law.
A hitman says he was asked to murder Richard Wershe Jr – a man who has been behind bars for almost 30 years for possessing cocaine – after his information led to the arrest of a number of powerful people in Detroit.
The film, ‘650 LIFER: The Legend of White Boy Rick’, documents the life of Wershe Jr, who was given a life sentence in 1988 for a non-violent drug crime when he was just 17 .
A draconian law at the time meant that if you were carrying over 650 grams of cocaine, you were given an automatic life sentence. He is eligible for parole, but Wayne County Prosecutors refuse to release him, despite the help he has given to the authorities.
A teaser trailer sent to DailyMail.com by Transition Studios shows interviews with a number of former FBI agents and attorneys who all say they knew corrupt cops were involved in the case, and believe Wershe should have been freed years ago.
It also shows convicted killer, Nathaniel Craft, insisting that he was asked to kill Rick, but make sure it ‘led back to no one’.
A documentary has unearthed explosive claims police officers ordered a hit on 17-year-old drug dealer turned FBI informant Richard Wershe after he helped take down corrupt cops and a mayor’s brother-in-law. Wershe is pictured left at 17 and right in a recent mugshot
Wershe’s case has been in the headlines for decades, but now he hopes the new documentary and a Hollywood film being made at the same time will help lead to his freedom.
Three attempts on his life are believed to have been uncovered. Producers told DailyMail.com there were three failed plans to kill the drug dealer in a car chase, on his way to prison and in the courthouse.
Craft later admitted to federal prosecutors that he was involved in more than 30 homicides.
Convicted drug kingpin Johnnie Curry also claims that his crimes were far worse than Wershe’s – but he was released earlier.
In the film he says: ‘On a scale of one to 10, I would say he was about a two. He was nowhere near me.
‘I did way more than he could possibly have ever done to get that kind of a sentence.’
In an email to DailyMail.com from Oaks Correctional Facility in Michigan earlier this month, Wershe said he continually faces roadblocks because politicians and attorneys still ‘lie and cover stuff up’.
He spoke from his cell just days after President Obama pardoned hundreds of inmates for drug offenses.
Wershe told DailyMail.com he is truly happy for those on the list and praised the President for correcting a ‘mass injustice’.
But he said he is helpless, as the only one who can release him is Michigan’s Governor, Rick Snyder.
The filmmakers are hoping to get the politician to sit down for a private viewing in a bid to have him release Wershe.
The documentary’s director, Shawn Rech, told DailyMail.com, that Wershe became a scapegoat for politicians in a city in decline in the 1980s.
He said: ‘The film examines how a juvenile could possibly receive a life sentence for possession of drugs.
‘We explore the legend of “White Boy Rick,” which it turns out didn’t have much truth behind it.
‘It did work out great for TV stations and their news ratings, as well as politicians who needed a scapegoat for a big city in decline.
‘We gained access to almost all of the key players. From the real drug lords who ran Detroit’s street enterprises, to the FBI agents who worked their cases, to some of the journalists who reported on all of this at that time.
‘The film is as much about the city’s culture of corruption as Rick’s case. We even uncovered new, jaw dropping evidence of just how high the corruption went.
‘Believe it or not, this film will contain a lot of new information about what went on back then.
‘I suppose we’re benefiting from people getting more comfortable as time passes.
‘We show the viewer what’s really going on, and why certain powerful individuals are committed to never allowing Rick’s release. Their arguments don’t hold up.’
Wershe was a paid informant who helped the authorities prosecute crooked cops and the brother-in-law of former Detroit mayor Coleman Young (pictured) – actions which seem to have dented his chances of release
Wershe was a paid FBI informant who helped the authorities prosecute crooked police officers and Willie Valson, the brother-in-law of former Detroit mayor Coleman Young.
His actions seem to have dented his chances of release.
In an interview with WDIV in February, 2015, he said it was his cooperation with cases against high-profile figures, including a former homicide cop and city councilman Gill Hill, which has stopped him being set free.
He told the reporter at the time: ‘I embarrassed a lot of people. But all I did was what I was asked and all I did was tell the truth.
‘I was asked to go out there and get information about some people that were involved in the drug trade, and their connections, and how the drugs were coming in.
‘They got me involved in this. I was a kid. I made a poor decision. Should I be paying for it 27 years later? I don’t think so.’
His legal team believe he has been wronged by the legal system and his family are constantly pushing for him to be freed.
They have a Facebook group which keep supporters updated about developments in his case.
Long-time attorney Ralph Musilli told the Detroit News in September: ‘How can you give up a man’s life? We’re talking about someone who went into prison at the age of 18 on a nonviolent crime. You can’t let this guy stay in prison.’
FBI agent Gregg Schwartz, who investigated some of Detroit’s drug rings and other corruption, said drug dealers and murderers have been freed while Wershe still languishes behind bars.
In an interview with DailyMail.com earlier this year he said Wersche should not be behind bars.
During the film, he states: ‘I am sorry to say, the legend of White Boy Rick, is just not true.’
He added: ‘Third world countries don’t incarcerate like this.’
A baby-faced Wershe was recruited as an informant by the FBI in 1984, mainly because his father had done the same, and he was trusted by a black family who were being investigated.