Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rick Wershe, Jr. is Waiting—and Hoping—for Freedom


Next month will mark the 29th year that Richard J. Wershe, Jr., known in the media as White Boy Rick, has been in prison for a non-violent drug offense. The Michigan Parole Board, at long last, seems interested in granting him parole.

Rick Wershe, Jr., about age 12 in this snapshot, had no way of knowing that a few years later he would be a paid secret informant for the FBI in an adventure that would put him in prison the rest of his life. (Photo courtesy of Dave Majkowski.)

The waiting must be hard. The not knowing must be harder. After years of waiting, after years of disappointment, things are moving. Rick Wershe’s life prison sentence may be coming to an end. Next month he has a critical, formal interview with a member of the Michigan Parole Board. 

If that goes well, if Rick appears ready to return to society, the Parole board member will report to the full board, which will then vote whether to consider Rick Wershe for parole. A public hearing is mandatory, but the Parole Board could decide no testimony is necessary, that they’ve decided to finally grant Wershe parole. A 29-year ordeal could be over in a matter of minutes.

Between now and the middle of February, Rick Wershe is left to sit in a cell the size of an oversized home bathroom or walk around in the prison exercise yard or watch TV and try to keep his mind off the clock and the calendar. The waiting must be hard. The not knowing must be harder.

I spoke with Rick over the Christmas holidays. Frankly, I think he’s afraid to hope. Wershe is not the kind of guy to be afraid of much of anything or anybody, but this is different. He’s been disappointed so many times. He’s afraid to get his hopes up. Wershe has developed a bit of a protective emotional shell over the years. He secretly hopes for the best but his public face says he’s prepared for the worst, which is more of the same. It’s the only way to keep his sanity. It’s the only way to avoid sinking in to the depths of despair. He’s good at bracing himself for bad news. Life in prison has done that to him. Still. This time, things seem different.

For those new to the Rick Wershe saga, here’s the semi-succinct back story:

Wershe was a 14-year old Detroit white kid living in a racially mixed neighborhood when the FBI came calling, wanting him to become a paid informant against some guys he knew; a black family named Curry. They were rising stars in Detroit’s cocaine scene. And they had political connections. Leader Johnnie Curry was married to Cathy Volsan, the niece of Detroit Mayor Coleman Young. That automatically gave Johnnie Curry real juice, which included receiving police narcotics intelligence reports from politically ambitious cops. Wershe knew the Currys through the youngest Curry brother, Rudell "Boo" Curry. The Currys trusted him.

Rick Wershe, by all accounts, did a good job for a joint federal/local narcotics task force. He also found out about corruption in the top ranks of the police department. He told the FBI about that, too. He learned Johnnie Curry had paid Gil Hill, the head of Detroit Police Homicide, to make a murder investigation go away. the victim was an innocent 13-year old boy, shot to death accidentally by members of the Curry gang.

When the FBI got the evidence they needed to indict and convict the Curry gang, the feds abandoned Wershe, their confidential informant, cold. A school dropout with no family to turn to, young Rick Wershe decided he, too, would become a dope dealer, a wholesaler. It was, of course, a bad decision. 

The Detroit police found out quickly and busted him. Gullible reporters who depend on leaks and tips from the cops for their news stories, had a field day smearing Rick Wershe as White Boy Rick, the white teen boss of Detroit’s cocaine underworld. They never stopped to ask how a white kid, arrested before he was 18, a kid who couldn’t grow a decent moustache, could give orders to prison-hardened, sometimes murderous, adult black dope dealers. Under a harsh Michigan law that has since been repealed, Rick Wershe was sentenced at age 18 to life in prison for a non-violent drug crime. He’s been there to this day.

Along the way, he continued helping the FBI—from prison. He disrupted two murder plots but he also helped set up an undercover sting of corrupt cops, including Gil Hill who by this time was a politically powerful city council member. Nearly a dozen cops were indicted but Hill escaped arrest, narrowly. He now knew, however, that Rick Wershe had been telling on him for years. Hill didn’t get mad. He got even.

When Wershe finally came up for a parole hearing, Hill and his cronies stacked the deck with police witnesses, some of whom misled the board, and some presented false and misleading “confidential” informant reports. Yet three FBI agents testified in favor of Wershe’s release.

The Parole Board, apparently mindful of Wershe’s media reputation as White Boy Rick, the drug kingpin and drug lord and menace to society, turned him down for parole. Gill Hill the apparent organizer of a law enforcement vendetta against Rick Wershe, died last year.

Now the Parole Board is back and considering parole for Rick Wershe. This time may be different.

Over the years Wershe’s attorneys have been battling for his release on the basis of civil rights violations. It is Constitutionally prohibited cruel and unusual punishment to treat one prisoner differently from all other prisoners incarcerated for the same offense.

Michigan has granted reduced sentences and paroles to well over a hundred inmates who, like Wershe, were sentenced to long prison terms as juveniles for non-violent drug crimes. Everyone fitting this case description has had a second chance. Everyone except Rick Wershe.

This is an aerial photo of Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee, Michigan where Rick Wershe is housed as Inmate # 193024. (Photo: InmateAid)


In December, Wershe’s attorneys filed a motion for a writ of habeas corpus in Detroit federal court. They already have a civil rights lawsuit for Wershe in play in Grand Rapids federal court, but it's moving slowly. The December legal move compels the State of Michigan, through the Attorney General’s office, to show the court why Wershe should remain in prison while the state is releasing a long list of others who were jailed on similar charges. They have until June to respond formally and in detail.

It appears to be one court battle too many for the State of Michigan. Less than a week after the habeas corpus filing, the Parole Board announced they were moving up Wershe’s next scheduled consideration for parole from next December to this spring. If they grant him parole in, say, April, the habeas corpus case goes away. The civil rights lawsuit goes away. The increasing media questions about why they are treating Wershe differently than every other drug lifer will go away. Those are good reasons to think this time may be different. Rick Wershe sure hopes so.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 may be Rick Wershe’s Year for Parole. There is a Way You Can Help

Rick Wershe’s 2016 holidays had to be the best he’s had in a long time. He got word the Michigan Parole Board is accelerating the timetable for consideration of parole for him. This is his 29th year in prison. He was due for routine consideration in December. That’s been moved up to February. He told me he’s amazed at how fast things are moving. Here’s what’s happening and how you might be able to help.

Richard J. Wershe, Jr. has been a political prisoner in Michigan for a very long time. Twenty-eight years so far and he’s entering the 29th.

Richard J. Wershe, Jr. 2017 may be his year. (Photo: David Coates, Detroit News)


For those new to the story, here’s a recap: Rick was recruited by the FBI to become a drug informant at the tender age of 14 because he knew and was trusted by a politically-connected drug dealing family on Detroit’s east side. He helped the feds get indictments, and more. He told them about the possible corruption of Detroit Police Inspector Gil Hill, now deceased, who was the head of the Homicide unit and a local celebrity thanks to a small part in the Eddie Murphy movie Beverly Hills Cop. When the feds got what they needed for the drug case, they dropped Wershe as a paid informant.

He was then a school dropout with nowhere to turn, no family to back him up and no viable trade. So, he turned to the trade the police taught him. He started slinging dope and tried, unsuccessfully, to become a big-time drug wholesaler. He got caught by the Detroit Police and a pair of DEA agents and he was sentenced to life in prison. No one came to his aid for a variety of unsavory reasons that make law enforcement look like less than the good guys. He is believed to be Michigan’s longest-serving juvenile offender convicted for a non-violent crime.

The FBI and U.S. Justice Department never made a case against Gil Hill, although they certainly tried and he knew it. Convicted and admitted drug dealer Johnnie Curry eventually told the FBI he paid Gil Hill $10,000 to make a murder investigation go away. It involved the inadvertent murder of a 13-year old Detroit boy by members of the Current drug gang. Curry admitted this to FBI agents not once, but twice.



The late Gil Hill. Admitted and convicted drug dealer Johnnie Curry told FBI agents he paid Hill $10,000 to thwart a murder investigation linked to the Curry drug gang.  

Even so, neither the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office nor the U.S. Justice Department charged Hill with obstruction of justice or the violation of the civil rights of murder victim Damion Lucas. No one in the criminal “justice” system wanted to bring charges against a black celebrity, especially a black police celebrity, in a city like Detroit. 

Rick Wershe was a nobody. An expendable throwaway. He didn’t have Gil Hill’s political clout. Wershe was thrown to the wolves and Hill made sure the wolves kept after him with a life prison sentence that’s been doled out five years at a time. Hill died last year.

Wershe’s attorneys have been trying for years to get him out of prison. Real drug kingpins have been charged, tried, convicted, sentenced, imprisoned and released in the time Rick Wershe, the FBI-recruited informant, has been behind bars. As defense attorney Ralph Musilli puts it, Wershe told on the wrong people and he cost them a lot of money. The Detroit/Wayne County so-called criminal justice system has carried out a vendetta against Wershe in behalf of their drug-corrupted pals ever since. As retired FBI agent Gregg Schwarz put it: “Detroit has been and continues to be the gold standard for public corruption in the United States. Mayors, city officials, judges, police, it’s all there.”

Little wonder, then, that some in the Detroit Police, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and more than a few local and state appellate judges are in the pocket of bribe-paying or politically-connected gangsters and perfectly willing to keep Rick Wershe, Jr. in prison for natural life, if possible if that's what their corrupt pals want.

Wershe has two federal civil rights lawsuits in play over his unusual punishment, which is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. The gist of his argument is he has been treated differently than everyone else in the Michigan prison system. He is the only known non-violent drug offender convicted as a juvenile who is still in prison. All the others have been re-sentenced and released.

Last month Wershe’s lawyers filed what is known as a motion for a writ of habeas corpus in Detroit federal court. This legal maneuver is intended to force prosecutors, police and prison administrators to demonstrate to a judge why they are holding a prisoner when there is reason to question whether he is being held unreasonably and in violation of his Constitutional rights.

The motion for a writ of habeas corpus appears to be one court fight too many for the State of Michigan in regard to Rick Wershe. The Michigan Attorney General, by law, represents the Michigan Department of Corrections when it is sued, as it has been in the habeas corpus case. The Attorney General’s office already represents the Department of Corrections in a pending civil rights case Wershe has filed in federal court in Grand Rapids, which has jurisdiction over the prison where he is incarcerated.

The Grand Rapids case appears stalled because the assigned judge doesn’t want to be bothered with a prisoner rights’ case. The habeas corpus motion is a horse of a different color. It forces the State of Michigan to convince a federal judge that they are holding Wershe properly. It requires an open court airing of the facts of the Wershe case. 

That’s something the “system” wants to avoid at all costs because Wershe’s reputation as a drug “kingpin” and “drug lord” is a police/prosecution fabrication aided and abetted by a gullible, headline-hungry news media that has never investigated the basis for the legend of White Boy Rick, Wershe’s media nickname.

Less than a week after the filing of the motion for a writ of habeas corpus, the Michigan Parole Board announced it was going to review the Wershe case for possible parole. He was due for a routine parole review in 2017, but not until December. All of sudden, the Parole Board has moved up the timetable—significantly.

I spoke with Rick last week and he said the Corrections Department had just completed his PER—Parole Eligibility Report. He was amazed at how fast things are moving now. Wershe says he’s never seen the system move so fast on a parole case, and he’s been watching the system from the inside for 28 years.

Here’s what happens next:

Sonia Amos-Warchock, a member of the 10-member Michigan Parole Board, will interview Wershe on February 13th. This will be a formal session. Rick’s lawyer, Ralph Musilli, will be present, along with a pair of parole consultants helping Rick navigate the process.

After the interview, Ms. Amos-Warchock will prepare a report she will share with the rest of the Parole Board. The board will then vote whether to consider Rick Wershe for parole. If a majority votes “Yes”, this will trigger a notice of a formal public hearing. The hearing notice must be posted twice, thirty days apart, by law. In a “lifer” case a public hearing is mandatory. The hearing might be an opportunity to finally air the dirty laundry of the Richard Wershe, Jr. case, with witnesses and exhibits.

Or it could be very, very brief. The Board could open the hearing, announce they have reviewed his case, and they have voted to parole Rick Wershe. Done. Fini. It could be all over in a matter of minutes.

This is where you could help. No matter what happens with the public hearing, it will be quite helpful if Rick Wershe’s many supporters show up; a show of public support that the Parole Board cannot ignore. Fill the joint to standing-room-only. Let the Board know there are plenty of people who think this guy deserves a second chance. 

We don’t know the location, date or time yet, but there will be plenty of advanced notice. The best guess is the Parole Board wants to grant a parole and get the Wershe case out of the system no later than the end of May. They are due in Detroit federal court in June to present their case against Wershe and it’s logical to think they want this case behind them before June shows up on the calendar.

Over time many people have asked what they can do to help Rick Wershe. Taking the time to stand up—literally—for Wershe at his long-sought parole hearing would be a powerful way to help him end this nightmarish, life-sapping ordeal.

If things go Rick Wershe’s way, if he finally gets some justice, it may happen in the spring of 2017.
   



Sunday, December 18, 2016

New Pressure on the Criminal Justice System to Free Rick Wershe

Rick Wershe’s lawyers have filed a new court motion, in federal court, aimed at forcing consideration of parole for him. Wershe is the longest serving Michigan inmate doing a life sentence for a non-violent drug crime committed when he was a juvenile. The lawyer who filed the motion is the son of a Detroit legal legend.

UPDATE: On Monday, December 19th, the Michigan Parole Board notified Rick Wershe they intend to interview him in February for possible parole. It is the first step in the formal process for granting parole. It comes less than a week after the filing of the motion for habeas corpus described below. For Rick Wershe, it's the best news he's received since his parole hearing in 2003. It is certain to brighten his Christmas.

As Rick Wershe prepares for his 29th year in prison next year, his lawyers are still fighting the fight, battling every way possible to force the criminal justice system to dispense justice in his case. Drug dealers who were ten times bigger on the dope scene have been tried, convicted, imprisoned and paroled in the time Wershe has been behind bars. Cold-blooded hitmen have gone to prison and have been released in the time Wershe has been locked up. Rick Wershe’s real crime was that he was an FBI informant who helped the feds put politically connected dopers and politically connected corrupt cops in prison. There has been a long-running vendetta against Rick Wershe—28 years so far—by some politically powerful people in Detroit and the so-called criminal “justice” system has knuckled under. When a Wayne County Circuit Court judge tried to re-sentence Wershe to time served, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who owes her political career to the corrupt Detroit/Wayne County political machine, fought all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court to keep Wershe in prison.

Several hundred Michigan prison inmates, sentenced as juveniles to life in prison for murder, have been re-sentenced under a Michigan Supreme Court ruling called the Lockridge case. Rick Wershe was never convicted of a violent crime or charged with one. Yet, he remains in prison serving a life term. He was sentenced under a draconian state drug law that was repealed years ago. The fact he remains in prison under a discarded law and has been refused meaningful consideration for parole is cruel and unusual punishment as defined by the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution because he is being treated differently than everyone else serving life sentences as juvenile offenders in Michigan. Moreover, the Michigan Parole Board has repeatedly refused to consider Rick Wershe for parole and they refuse to give a reason. They don’t have to unless a judge forces them to do it because in Michigan they are accountable to no one and Michigan’s voters haven’t seen fit to demand a change in this enormous power that is subject to abuse.

Enter attorney Paul Louisell who has filed a writ of habeas corpus motion in behalf of Wershe in Detroit federal court. Louisell is a member of the Musilli, Brennan law firm. Ralph Musilli is Rick Wershe’s long serving tenacious lawyer, fighting on multiple issues in multiple courts to try to secure his client’s freedom. He’s been working for years pro bono, a Latin term which means he’s working for free on Wershe's case. So is Paul Louisell. Louisell worked for a time in the appellate section of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office. He has experience with appeals matters and this habeas corpus motion falls in that category. His father, the late Joe Louisell, was a true legend in Detroit courts in the 50s and 60s. More on that later.

First, let’s consider what the hell habeas corpus means. It’s another Latin term meaning “you have the body.” In law, it’s used to force authorities to produce a body—in this case Rick Wershe’s body—which they may be holding illegally. In laymen’s terms the habeas corpus motion is intended for force the powers-that-be to explain why they are holding Wershe in the face of what appears to be violations of several of his Constitutional rights.

As they say in those cheesy late-night TV commercials, “But wait! There’s more!”

The habeas corpus motion filing was assigned to U.S. District Judge George Steeh. Amazingly, his court ordered the Michigan Attorney General’s Office to file a legal response. The AG’s office represents the Parole Board in legal matters. This is getting to first base with this motion, something that is very, very difficult these days.

Ever since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts have taken a tough stand on habeas corpus and other defendant/inmate rights. Last year the Michigan Law Journal, a publication of the University of Michigan School of Law, published a piece with a wordy and cumbersome title: The Demise of Habeas Corpus and the Rise of Qualified Immunity: The Court’s Ever Increasing Limitations on the Development and Enforcement of Constitutional Rights and Some Particularly Unfortunate Consequences.

I know. It makes you want to rush to find it on Google and read every word. But the title tells you what you need to know; habeas corpus, a defendant or inmate’s right to challenge illegal or improper incarceration, is under assault by numerous court rulings. As a practical matter, judges are reluctant these days to even consider habeas corpus cases because there is so much case law now stacked against this legal tool. That’s why Judge Steeh’s willingness to even consider Louisell’s motion is noteworthy.

“Wershe is not being treated like other juveniles now being re-sentenced (in Michigan) under Lockridge,” Louisell says. The Lockridge ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court orders that juvenile lifers in murder cases be given a “second look” by the sentencing judge because of the defendant’s age at the time of sentencing. That hasn’t happened in the Wershe case and he’s the ONLY Michigan juvenile lifer who has been denied consideration under the Lockridge ruling.

“If he were sentenced today, he’d probably get five to seven years or at most 15 to 17 years,” Louisell says.


Attorney Paul Louisell. A framed newspaper article about his famous late father is over his shoulder.



In his office, over his shoulder, there is a framed copy of a newspaper article about the late great Joe Louisell, Paul’s father. In a lengthy profile story The Detroit Free Press once called Joe Louisell “Detroit’s Perry Mason,” a lawyer with an astonishing knack for winning seemingly unwinnable cases.

In 1995 the Detroit Legal News honored Joe Louisell posthumously as a “Legal Legend.” Joe Louisell’s father, Medor Louisell, was a prominent trial lawyer in Minnesota and later, in 1908, he was a member of the Michigan Constitutional Convention.

Joe Louisell got legendary Detroit Lions quarterback Bobby Layne out of a drunk driving case by arguing the arresting police officers may have mistaken Layne’s thick, slow Texas drawl for drunkenness. Layne had stopped his car six feet from the curb when the police stopped him and a car load of companions. But Joe Louisell’s novel defense argument about the way the championship football star’s drawl could be mistaken for drunkenness won the day.


The late Joe Louisell, described as Detroit's Perry Mason. (Photo: Detroit Free Press)




Regarded for many years as Detroit’s premier criminal defense attorney, Louisell won acquittals in several seemingly hopeless murder trials.

Joe Louisell also successfully defended some of Detroit’s top Mafia figures of the era. “I’ve never been ashamed of my clients,” Louisell once told reporters. “I’ve always felt I defended causes, not people.”

What would Joe Louisell think of the Rick Wershe case?

“He’d be incensed about the whole parole process,” his son Paul believes. “He’d be right there with Ralph (Musilli) arguing before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that Rick has never been given an opportunity for parole.”


Maybe, just maybe, with Paul Louisell’s motion for a writ of habeas corpus and Ralph Musilli’s civil rights fight for Wershe in the federal courts, Rick Wershe may at long last get justice in 2017.

***
Correction:
I work hard to keep the facts straight in the complex and twisted tale of Richard “White Boy Rick” Wershe, Jr. But sometimes things are misstated and it’s important to make corrections.

The blog of November 20, 2016 stated in part: “…he embarrassed Coleman Young by having an affair with the mayor’s niece while he was secretly working for the FBI.”

This is incorrect. Rick Wershe had stopped working for the FBI before he began his affair with Cathy Volsan Curry. He did indeed work as a confidential informant for the FBI, he did indeed have an affair with Cathy Volsan Curry, the mayor’s niece, and he embarrassed the mayor by living with her. But his FBI work and his fling with Ms. Volsan-Curry did not intersect.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rick Wershe’s Fate may be determined One Year from Now

One year from now, December, 2017, Richard J. Wershe, Jr., known in the media as White Boy Rick, will learn if his nightmarish life sentence for a non-violent drug conviction handed down when he was a teenager, will come to an end. It may continue. It’s anybody’s guess. Between now and then people who support Wershe may have an opportunity—at last—to express their opinion in a public hearing.

Richard J. Wershe, Jr.’s file in the Michigan Department of Corrections says he’s due for parole consideration in December, 2017. A lot can happen between now and then. Much depends on fairness and integrity within the Michigan Parole Board.


Richard J. Wershe, Jr. in court in Detroit in September, 2015. (Photo: David Coates, Detroit News)



On its face, the Michigan parole system is an orderly process. Scratch the veneer of that process and you’ll find politics—and plenty of it.

The Michigan Parole Board, ten ex-prosecutors, sheriffs and career employees of the Michigan Department of Correction appointed by the Governor, by default tilts toward swallowing whole whatever a county prosecutor tells them about a given inmate up for parole. There’s a presumption of truth in whatever a county prosecutor tells the board about whether an inmate should be paroled. Sometimes county prosecutors don’t object to parole for an inmate. In those cases, the granting of parole goes smoothly. But in other cases, if a prosecutor objects, the road to parole can be very rocky indeed.

That’s what happened to Rick Wershe in 2003 when he was eligible for his first parole hearing. The office of then-Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Duggan waged a full-scale effort to sabotage Wershe’s parole. It included a scathing letter from Duggan claiming Wershe was an unredeemable menace to society who should remain locked up for the rest of his life.

Never mind that Wershe got in to the drug underworld after being recruited by federal agents who knew he knew the leaders of a major drug gang. Never mind that he helped the FBI bring down one of Detroit’s most powerful crack cocaine empires. Never mind that he was never convicted of a violent crime or even charged with one. Never mind that he was never charged federally under the so-called “kingpin” drug statute. Never mind that no one was ever charged as a member of Wershe’s mythical drug “gang.”

There are many “never minds” about the Wershe case, but it hasn’t mattered. In 2003 the Michigan Parole Board held a parole hearing for Wershe that resembled a kangaroo court. There were numerous stunning inconsistencies but the Parole Board had no curiosity about any of them. Wershe’s 2003 “hearing” appeared to be all for show. They denied his parole.

Regular readers of Informant America know there appears to be a vendetta by the corrupt Detroit/Wayne County political machine to keep Wershe in prison until he dies for helping the FBI successfully prosecute politically connected corrupt cops and the drug-dealing brother-in-law of the late Mayor Coleman Young. As Ralph Musilli, Wershe’s attorney, succinctly puts it, Rick Wershe told on the wrong people and he cost them a lot of money. It is reasonable to wonder if current Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who owes her career to the corrupt pols of Detroit and Wayne County, is continuing the vendetta by fighting aggressively to block Wershe’s release from prison.

Wershe was last up for parole consideration in 2012. In early July of that year he was sent a formal notice that stated he was scheduled for a Parole Board interview on August 20, 2012.

In 2012 the Michigan Parole Board initially indicated on the record that they intended to interview Rick Wershe, Jr. for possible parole.





Later that month, on July 23rd, notice was sent that Wershe’s parole interview was being canceled. The notice stated “The majority of the board has no interest in taking action at this time.

Less than a month later, the Parole Board reversed itself and canceled Wershe's formal interview, thus dashing his hopes for parole for at least five more years.




There was no explanation, no reason given. The Parole Board, which does as it pleases with no oversight, with no accountability, doesn’t have to give a reason. Did someone with political juice within the criminal justice system persuade the board to turn Wershe down again for parole? We have no way of knowing. All we know is they scheduled his next parole interview for December, 2017.


So sometime next year, Wershe’s 29th in prison, in a closed-to-the-public session, the Parole Board will again decide whether they want to consider Wershe for parole. Five years will have passed since the last time they voted “no interest.” If they vote “no interest” again, that’s that. He will be flopped to serve another five years before the next parole consideration. Attorney Musilli calls it serving a life sentence five years at a time.

If the Parole Board shows some interest next year in considering Wershe for parole, a single parole board member will interview him and share the results of that interview with the rest of the Board. A dossier will be prepared for the full board detailing all of the information about Wershe, good and bad, in the prison system files. Lifer cases must be considered by the full board. A hearing, a public hearing, will be scheduled. By law this requires two public notices be posted. This is a 60 day process. Since Wershe’s file calls for a December, 2017 review, the process will likely begin around June.

During this time, the prosecutor in the county where Wershe was convicted, Wayne County, will have an opportunity to remain silent and let the parole hearing go forward without objection, or notify the Parole Board they intend to object to Wershe’s release.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has withstood mounting criticism from the public and from the media for fighting to keep Wershe in prison. This past August she caused a stir in some media circles by announcing she might re-consider her position on Wershe since he was convicted as a juvenile. Then again, she might not. It was a total non-statement and it appears to have been intended to get the media off her back without doing anything about Wershe’s life sentence. Only Kym Worthy knows what position she will take regarding parole for Rick Wershe next year.


Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy-Will she continue the political vendetta against Rick Wershe in 2017? (Photo: WXYZ-TV)



The Michigan Attorney General gets a say in the matter, too. Like the Wayne County Prosecutor, the Michigan AG has opposed Wershe’s parole, citing the same erroneous and unsupportable information that sank his chances in 2003.

One more official gets half of a say, too. That’s Wayne County Circuit Court judge Dana Hathaway. She’s the judge who took over his case file when his original trial judge retired. Under the rules, she can object to Wershe’s parole but she can’t recommend parole. In other words, she only has input if she objects, which is not likely. Last year Judge Hathaway made it clear in an opinion and ruling that she thinks Wershe’s sentence ought to be reduced to time served. Kym Worthy fought that all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court. Unfortunately, Judge Hathaway’s opinion won’t be part of the Parole Board’s deliberation process.


Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Dana Hathaway. She thinks Rick Wershe should be re-sentenced to time served and released from prison. (Photo: Deadline Detroit)



A key element for the Parole Board is a review of the positives; why Rick Wershe should be released on parole. They want to know if he is a good “risk” to be allowed to return to the community. This is where his supporters can make a difference. At the appropriate time a campaign for letters of support will be in order. The goal will be to blitz the Parole Board with letters of support for Rick Wershe. 

He had a few letters of support at the 2003 parole hearing. A few hundred or maybe even a few thousand letters of support in 2017 would have an impact. 

If he gets a public hearing, possibly next fall, it would be an opportunity for all of those who say they believe Wershe should be set free to show up en masse and show the Parole Board that a substantial segment of the community believes this man has done enough time, that he should be paroled. 

Ideally, for Rick's sake, it should be standing room only. To borrow a current buzz word in politics, the optics would be powerful.






Sunday, November 20, 2016

Matthew ‘Alright, Alright, Alright’ McConaughey may star in film about Rick Wershe, Jr.


This blog post will cover several events of note in the ongoing saga of Richard J. Wershe, Jr.

Academy-award winning actor Matthew McConaughey who starred in such films as Dallas Buyers Club, Magic Mike and Failure to Launch is reportedly in talks to star in White Boy Rick, a film “inspired by” the story of Richard J. Wershe, Jr.

Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey. He is in talks to star in 'White Boy Rick', a film based on the story of Richard J. Wershe, Jr. McConaughy would play the role of Rick's father. (Photo: Associated Press)


McConaughey would play the role of Rick’s father, Richard J. Wershe, Sr. The role of Rick has not yet been cast. The film has been in development for several years and it has had multiple screenplay re-writes. Yann Demange, an acclaimed hot young director from the U.K. has been signed to direct the motion picture. Production is scheduled to begin next spring.

It’s anybody’s guess whether the Hollywood film will help Rick Wershe win his freedom. He’s been in prison nearly 29 years for a non-violent drug conviction when he was 18. At age 14 Wershe was recruited by the FBI to become a paid informant against the politically-connected Johnnie Curry drug gang on Detroit’s east side. Johnnie Curry was married to Cathy Volsan Curry, the niece of the late Detroit Mayor Coleman Young. Curry enjoyed police protection in the form of intelligence reports and other tips until he and his gang were brought down by the FBI with considerable help from Rick Wershe, Jr. Even though he was white and the Currys were black, the teenaged Wershe knew drug-dealing brothers Johnnie and Leo Curry through his friendship with their younger brother, Rudell “Boo” Curry.

When a federal drug task force got all they needed from their teen informant they kicked him to the curb to fend for himself. They indicted the Curry Brothers who pleaded guilty and went to prison.

Wershe came from a broken, dysfunctional family and the only trade he knew is the one law enforcement taught him: the dope trade. Wershe was never a drug user but thanks to the schooling of police narcs he knew his way around Detroit’s drug trade. Critics who say he ran with some of the biggest gangsters in Detroit in that era conveniently forget federal agents paid him to do that. Of course he consorted with drug dealers. That was what he was being paid to do.

Cocky but immature and cast adrift on the mean streets of Detroit, Rick Wershe, Jr. tried to become a “weight man”, a cocaine wholesaler. He didn’t last a year before Detroit Police narcs busted him on a major drug charge that carried a life sentence. The case was shaky but with the help of sensational media headlines about a white teen drug kingpin ruling the cocaine trade in mostly black Detroit, a jury bought the story the narcs concocted. Real drug kingpins from that era say it was a fabricated legend intended to win a conviction.  

For nearly two years, numerous blog posts on Informant America have detailed the facts and evidence pointing to an official vendetta to keep Wershe in prison because he told the hated FBI about drug trade corruption in the Detroit Police Department—and he embarrassed Coleman Young by having an affair with the mayor’s niece while he was secretly working for the FBI. Even after he went to prison Wershe continue to help the FBI in a major case which led to the conviction of a number of police officers and Willie Clyde Volsan, Cathy Volsan’s father and Mayor Young’s brother-in-law.

Not only did Wershe become one of Coleman Young’s enemies by being an FBI “stool pigeon” he also made the top of the enemies list of the late Gil Hill, movie-star Detroit cop and later Detroit City Council President. It was for the same reason. Wershe told the FBI about Hill’s corruption through cash from Johnnie Curry. The FBI tried, but failed, to gather enough evidence to indict and prosecute Hill for public corruption. They had evidence, they just didn’t have enough to ensure a jury conviction. But Hill learned he was almost prosecuted because of Rick Wershe, Jr. There’s strong evidence Hill did everything he could, pulled all the strings, called in political IOUs, to sabotage any hope Wershe might have for parole. It seems to have worked.

As Ralph Musilli, Wershe’s attorney, states succinctly: “He told on the wrong people and he cost the wrong people a lot of money.”

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who came up through the political machine of Detroit and Wayne County politics and who owes her career to some of the people Rick Wershe annoyed, has fought tenaciously to keep Wershe in prison.

Worthy has come under a lot of criticism about the Wershe case and her persecution as opposed to prosecution of juvenile offenders in Wayne County. She caused a media stir in August when she announced she might reconsider her position on the Wershe case. Some in the media hailed this as a big deal. It was no such thing.

Permit me two examples: Tomorrow I might reconsider my view that U.S. politics has become dysfunctional. Tomorrow I might reconsider my view that “reality” TV is total trash and a total waste of time. In other words, like Kym Worthy, I might reconsider a lot of things. It means nothing. It appears Kym Worthy said she might reconsider the Wershe case just to get the media off her back.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy - She pacified some in the media by announcing she "might" reconsider her position on the life sentence for Richard J. Wershe, Jr. So far she's done no such thing but it was enough to get a few reporters off her back for awhile.
(Photo: WDIV)


Worthy deserves to have the media on her back about a lot of her policies and managerial decisions. As she remains entrenched in office more and more she's becoming the Wayne County Persecutor instead of Prosecutor. Real justice is not on her radar screen. Late in the election season we urged voters to seriously consider her opponent in the election, Libertarian David Afton who opposed Worthy’s policy on juvenile justice in general and the Rick Wershe case in particular. This is not the first time he ran against Kym Worthy for Prosecutor. He lost but gained a lot of votes compared to the last time.

Here's the final vote totals for the 2016 election for Wayne County Prosecutor:
Worthy: 561,358  Afton: 106,036

It appears a lot of Rick’s supporters tried to help Afton win. Compare the totals above to the totals from the 2012 election:
Worthy: 645,938  Afton: 74,589

Afton gained 31,447 votes over his total in the last election. Conversely Worthy had 84,580 fewer votes this time around. Hey, it’s tough to beat the Detroit/Wayne County political machine and its anointed candidates like Kym Worthy.

Last but not least, Rick is asking once again that his supporters get behind his holiday food drive. Rick has been helping families in need for several years at the holidays. Each year brings more participation, more success for his food drive and more help for people who really need it.

Here’s what Rick posted on the Free Richard Wershe, Jr. Facebook page:

“This holiday season we are again asking for donations for the annual Rick Wershe Holiday Fundraiser.
All the donations will be used to help feed hungry families in the Detroit community where Rick grew up.
We're partnering with Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan and Emmanuel Lutheran Church to provide meals to needy families in Rick's old east side neighborhood. The Church provides meals and assistance to 75 families every month and right now they're short on the resources they need to feed everyone.
Rick's goal is to rejoin society so he can give back more and keep helping others who have faced difficult times in their lives. He likes to use the attention his case has been gotten to try to help others in need. No one should go hungry this holiday season and Rick wants to do what he can to help.
Last year (2015) we were able to donate $3,000 in food and clothing items to the Church.
We hope to match or exceed that this year. Thanks in advance for your generosity!”

If you’d like to help Rick help others, please go to the Free Richard Wershe, Jr. Facebook page. Tis the season.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Vote—Your Vote—for Justice in Wayne County

Libertarian David Afton has seemingly taken on Mission Impossible. He’s running against incumbent, some might say entrenched, Kym Worthy for Wayne County Prosecutor. Kym Worthy, who is black, has waged a vicious and vindictive battle to keep Richard J. Wershe, Jr., who is white, in prison until he dies for telling the FBI about corruption in Detroit’s black power structure. Sadly, many people see this as a racial issue. In truth, is a justice issue. If anyone has raised the specter of race, it is Worthy. Tuesday every voter in Wayne County has an opportunity to vote for Justice, which is why they should vote for David Afton.

Trying to defeat Kym Worthy isn't easy.


David Afton, a Dearborn attorney and former assistant Wayne County prosecutor is fighting an uphill battle. There’s no question about that. If you live in or know someone who lives in Livonia, Grosse Pointe Woods, Allen Park or Redford Township, you can help him. He’s taken on incumbent Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, a productive of, and member in good standing of, the Detroit/Wayne County black political machine. Most, but not all, members of that political machine are black. White career politicians are part of it, too. It’s as much a geographical clique as it is racial. It’s about the urban power structure of the City of Detroit and portions of Wayne County. If you cross it, you’re in for a nasty fight. One of the political goons of the Detroit/Wayne County power clique is Prosecutor Kym Worthy. She’s immensely powerful, but every four years she has to run for re-election. This is one of those years. If you live in or know someone who lives in Canton Township, Belleville, Dearborn Heights or Harper Woods you can help defeat Kym Worthy at the voting booth.


David Afton campaigning for Wayne County Prosecutor




How unjust is Kym Worthy? Just ask Richard J. Wershe, Jr., now in the 28th year of a life prison term for a non-violent drug case committed in Detroit when he was a teenager. Wershe did wrong. No argument about that. He tried to become a cocaine wholesaler after a federal drug task force recruited him—at age 14—to become a paid informant against a politically connected drug gang. When the feds were through with him, when they got what they needed to make a big drug case, they kicked him to the curb to fend for himself. He was a kid from a dysfunctional family and the only trade he knew was the one the cops taught him—the dope trade. He was wrong to try to get in to that racket but he was an immature kid, not an adult career criminal.

Hundreds of other guys like him have been paroled or had their sentences reduced. But Kym Worthy has fought all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court to keep Wershe in prison. The Informant America blog has shown in exhaustive detail in previous posts, that claims that Wershe was a major drug dealer are flat-out lies. As Ralph Musilli, Wershe’s appeals attorney says, Rick Wershe told on the wrong people. Politically powerful people. He cost those people a lot of money. Now, Kym Worthy, a hack for certain people in power in Detroit/Wayne County, is engaged in a massive injustice against Wershe as payback for telling the FBI about her corrupt pals.


Others have taken on seemingly impossible fights and won. The tale of David and Goliath is one example. In Wayne County in 2016 David is David Afton and Goliath is incumbent Kym Worthy.



David Afton says if he’s elected Wayne County Prosecutor one of the first things he would do is inform Wershe’s case judge, Dana Hathaway of Wayne County Circuit Court, that the Prosecutor’s office no longer opposes a sentence reduction for Wershe to what amounts to time served.

But Afton says exchanging injustice for justice in Wayne County is about more than Rick Wershe. “Some people seemed to see it as a white versus black thing. I’ve tried to make it clear I’m against all injustices,” Afton told me last week. “There are a lot of injustices going on and we have to take them on one by one. This is an egregious one and we have to address all of them. It doesn’t matter if they are white or black. We will address all of them.”
If you live in or know someone who lives in Plymouth, Flat Rock, Van Buren Township, Grosse Pointe Shores or Westland you can vote for a new Wayne County Prosecutor or you can urge someone you know in one of those communities to do so.


One call, then another, then another. Before you know it, the odds can be changed.




A last-minute daisy-chain of phone calls can have a multiplier effect. Voters need to understand this is about more than Rick Wershe. It’s bigger than Rick Wershe. It’s about ousting a politician who abuses the considerable power conferred on her by the voters. The Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project last summer singled out Kym Worthy, out of the estimated 2,400 prosecutors in the country, as “an extreme outlier” in her harsh treatment of juveniles in the criminal justice system. An outlier is someone who is an oddity, an exception to the rule, an extreme example. Kym Worthy has shown she has no understanding of words like fairness and justice. All she knows is punishment because she thinks that’s what will keep getting her elected and living off the taxpayers.


Kym Worthy - The voters get to decideif she is the face of Justice in Wayne County for four more years.




The odds are in Kym Worthy’s favor, no doubt about that. She's black. She's female. That's enough for many people who think it would be racist to vote for anyone else. It's an added burden in this election fight. But the Chicago Cubs just showed the world that perseverance can make a difference.


Upsets have happened before.





Michigan is not a big early-voting state. Most people go to the polls. That’s why there’s a chance for individuals to make a difference at the voting booth.

David Afton says win or lose, he’s going to stick with the citizen movement to get fair justice for Richard J. Wershe, Jr. “No matter what happens I’m still going to be a part of that,” Afton said. “This guy needs to get out.”