See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Monday, July 20, 2020

White Boy Rick to be set free today after spending entire adult life in prison for selling drugs

Posted By on Mon, Jul 20, 2020 at 10:45 AM

click to enlarge Richard Wershe Jr.'s mugshot circa 1987, left, and circa 2012, right. - MICHIGAN DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS
  • Michigan Dept. of Corrections
  • Richard Wershe Jr.'s mugshot circa 1987, left, and circa 2012, right.

After spending his entire adult life behind bars, Richard “White Boy Rick” Wershe Jr. is scheduled to be set free Monday, two days after his 51st birthday.

Wershe Jr. will return to metro Detroit, where he grew up too fast, working as a federal informant and slinging bags of cocaine as a teenager.

He’ll be on parole until Aug. 22, 2021. During that time, he’ll be prohibited from leaving the state and possessing drugs, alcohol, or weapons.

“He’s anxious to get home,” said Wershe’s attorney, Ralph Musilli, told WDIV-4. “His head is in a good place. He has a good support group here and he is finally ready get back into the real world.”

Wershe was sentenced to life in prison for selling cocaine in 1988, when the war on drugs was cruel and unforgiving. As attitudes toward drugs evolved, Wershe was paroled from a Michigan prison in 2017. Instead of being set free, Wershe was sent to a Florida prison to serve time for a 2006 conviction for his role in a car theft ring while locked up in Michigan.

Wershe’s story was dramatized in a 2018 film starring Matthew McConaughey.

At 14, the youngest FBI informant ever, Wershe helped bring down a cocaine trafficking ring. But after the FBI didn't need him anymore, Wershe stayed in the drug world and was eventually busted selling cocaine himself at the age of 17. He's been in custody ever since.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit