Richard Wershe Jr., also known as “White Boy Rick,” is an American who first gained fame as the youngest FBI informant in the agency’s history at age 14 while living outside of Detroit, in the mid-1980s.
In addition, Wershe Jr. became the longest-serving juvenile offender in his home state for a non-violent crime.
He was born on July 18, 1969, in the USA. His lower-middle-class family lived in a neighborhood about 7 miles from downtown Detroit.
Richard had become an informant for the FBI when he was 15.
During an interview, Wershe Jr. recalled:
“What kid doesn’t want to be an undercover cop when he’s 14, 15 years old?”
His father, Wershe Sr.. had also served as an informant to the FBI. Apparently, it was Wershe Sr. who pushed his son forward to become an informant. While he was an informant for the FBI, he managed to infiltrate a violent drug gang. No drug dealer thought he was an informant since he was too young.
At age 16, the teen was no longer needed by the FBI. Wershe Jr. found himself unable to escape the life he had entered and started dealing drugs without the FBI’s knowledge.
He was arrested in his home in 1987. He had 9,000 grams of cocaine and $30,000 in cash on him. Richard was 17-years-old. During an interview, Wershe Jr. said:
”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.”
Richard went on to say:
”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.”
In another interview, Richard detailed:
“I never wanted to be a drug dealer when it started. They paid me as an informant to infiltrate that world.”
Rick later added:
”They gave me money to make drug buys from people they were investigating and sometimes they would let me keep the drugs to sell, because it gave me credibility around the people I was informing on that I was a dealer too.”
During his trial, nothing about his activities as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation was taken into consideration.
He was tried under a draconian ‘lifer’ law, better known as Michigan’s 650-Lifer Law – a law that was born during the Ronald Reagan era. It has since been abolished by the United States Supreme Court.
According to 650-Lifer Law, persons found in possession of over 650 grams of heroin or cocaine will serve life in prison without parole. William G. Milliken, the governor who signed it into law, has since called it the worst mistake of his career.
Reforms to the 650-Lifer Law now have changed the mandatory life sentence requirement to twenty years to life, with eligibility for parole.
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While in prison, Wershe Jr. kept operating with the FBI. His pieces of information led to the arrest of at least 16 people as well as the conviction of a high-ranking Detroit policeman.
For his parole review in 2003, Mike Duggan, the Wayne County prosecutor sent a scathing letter to the Michigan Parole Board opposing his release.
According to reports, Mike Duggan accused Richard of being a ‘violent kingpin’ and a ‘gang leader’ who intimidated witnesses who ‘just disappeared.’ It read:
”This is one inmate that needs to remain in prison for his entire life.”
In September 2016, Richard again lost his bid to have his sentence reduced.
Ralph Musilli, Wershe’s attorney, said:
”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.”
In 2017, Richard was paroled after nearly three decades.
When Wershe Jr.’s parole was first denied, he thought that he was never getting out. Therefore, Richard participated – in a very minor way – in a stolen car ring from prison. Richard said that he pleaded guilty to protect his mother and sister from criminal charges. In his words:
“They said, ‘Listen, this is what we’re going to do. If you don’t take this plea, we are going to arrest your mom and your sister.'”
“It was a forced plea. I don’t agree I committed the crime that I was convicted of.”
He was originally scheduled to be released from prison on April 20, 2021. However, his release date from the Putnam Correctional Institution in Florida was moved on October 26, 2020.
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White Boy Rick – The Movie
A movie based on his life, called White Boy Rick, was released in 2018. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on August 31, 2018. The movie has grossed more than $25 million.
His father was played by Matthew McConaughey.
The film also stars:
- Piper Laurie;
- Bel Powley;
- Bruce Dern;
- Jennifer Jason Leigh;
- Eddie Marsan;
- Jonathan Majors;
- RJ Cyler;
- Rory Cochrane;
- Brian Tyree Henry.
The movie was written by Andy Weiss, and Logan and Noah Miller. Also, it was directed by Yann Demange.
Dawn Scott, Richard’s sister, declared that the movie doesn’t accurately portray her family.
For starters, Dawn Scott denies that her father couldn’t handle his children. She said:
“What upset me the most, he said my dad couldn’t handle you kids, he had Rick sell drugs because he couldn’t cut the mustard, but that’s the farthest from the truth.”
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On August 7, 2018, Rick co-authored his autobiography, called – ”White Boy Rick: My Years as a Teenage Drug Informant for the FBI.”
Richard Wershe Jr. – Net Worth
Wershe Jr. first started to earn money at age 14, when he was hired by the FBI as an informant. He also made money from selling drugs, but he probably was not able to keep much.
While in prison, Richard co-authored a book that can be purchased on Amazon. Additionally, he received money from the movie that bears his name – ”White Boy Rick.” Therefore, Richard Wershe Jr. has an estimated net worth of $0.5 million.
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