91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

“White Boy Rick” to get parole hearing

prison bars

Michigan’s longest-serving juvenile drug offender may have a chance at freedom after the state parole board agreed to a hearing.

“White Boy” Richard Wershe has spent nearly three decades in prison. Wershe acknowledges he was a drug runner for a Detroit gang, but never a drug kingpin as he was portrayed in the media and by prosecutors. And he says he continued in the drug trade at the urging of law enforcement officers who used him as an informant.

“I was a young, impressionable and, might I say, stupid kid. I went down the path that they steered me down, and it was wrong,” he says.

Wershe says he’s missed a lot while in prison.

“I’m hoping, you know, that they rule in my favor, and that, I didn’t get to see my children grow up. They’re in their 30s," he says. "I’d like to be there to see my grandkids grow up.”

Even if Wershe is guaranteed parole, there’s no guarantee he’ll go free.

Chris Gautz is with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Gautz says Wershe served part of his sentence in Florida, where he committed two felonies.

“There’s a possibility he would not walk free from Michigan. He would walk onto a bus or onto a plane and be taken to Florida,” says Gautz.

Gautz says the parole hearing will probably take place in June. Wershe was originally sentenced to life without parole, but that law was changed by the Legislature in 1998.

A Hollywood movie is in the works on Wershe’s life story.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.