Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Vince Wade’s sworn affidavit regarding Richard J. Wershe, Jr., aka White Boy Rick

This is a “special edition” of the Informant America blog.

This week I submitted a sworn affidavit to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio regarding my detailed investigation into errors, distortions and outright lies in front of the Michigan Parole Board in Rick Wershe’s one and only parole hearing in 2003. I am working on a book about Rick Wershe and the “War on Drugs” and I have reviewed the court record in the Wershe case. Through considerable and persistent effort, I have obtained copies of the transcripts of the testimony, statements, legal motions and arguments on the court record in the Wershe drug case and I have conducted interviews with some of the key figures, including eyewitnesses. Some key figures are deceased.

The U.S. 6th Court of Appeals Building-Cincinnati, Ohio. Rick Wershe's parole from a life prison sentence may be decided here.

For those who don’t know, Wershe has a federal civil rights lawsuit going against the Michigan Parole Board for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights regarding cruel and unusual punishment. Ralph Musilli, Wershe’s attorney, argues it is unusual punishment to keep Wershe in prison serving a life term when the Parole Board has released every other Michigan prison inmate similarly charged. That is, they were juveniles when they were sentenced and their conviction involved a non-violent drug offense. That describes Rick Wershe. The Michigan Parole Board has released every prisoner incarcerated under those parameters; everyone except Richard J. Wershe, Jr.

There was a lot of deception and mendacity in Wershe’s 2003 parole hearing but one of the striking elements was a letter submitted by then-Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Duggan who is now the Mayor of the City of Detroit. That letter is full of invective and hyperbole (nastiness and vigorous stretching of the truth) and it calls Rick Wershe “a menace to society.” The State of Michigan keeps including the Duggan letter in their filings with the federal courts as an attached exhibit to prove their side of the case. The letter has been cited several times by the Michigan Attorney General’s office in the Wershe civil rights lawsuit as “facts” the Parole Board relied upon. Thus, according to the Attorney General, the Parole Board gave Wershe a “fair” hearing.

In a word: bullshit.

The Duggan letter is packed with falsehoods, misstatements of the court record in Wershe’s case and unsupportable claims masquerading as facts. I can prove it. I’m ready to do so.

The judges and lawyers in this lawsuit keep arguing in never-ending circles about which established case law applies. Yet all sides seem to agree the issue is whether Wershe got a “fair” parole hearing. I contend he did not. And I contend the courts cannot resolve the matter without taking the time and trouble to re-visit the details of that 2003 hearing. So far, they have not. They cannot settle an issue of fact by arguing about the law. My affidavit urges the Court of Appeals to order a full inquiry regarding that parole hearing, complete with discovery, documents and witness testimony.

My affidavit was sworn to before a notary public, which is standard practice. It tells the court I am making the statements in the affidavit under oath regarding the truthfulness of the contents. What follows is an exact copy. The actual notarized affidavit went to the court.

No one asked me to do this. No one suggested it. In fact, it is highly unusual for a third party, particularly a reporter-type, to stick his nose in to an ongoing lawsuit. But in the Wershe saga I have traded my standard reporter coat and tie for the shirtsleeve garb of an old-fashioned muckraking crusading journalist of a century ago. That allows me to spout opinions and raise some hell. 

As I noted in my cover letter to the Court of Appeals, “Mr. Wershe is serving a life sentence and he has been denied fair consideration for parole based, to a considerable degree, upon misstatements and falsehoods that can and should be challenged regarding his reputation as a major drug dealer and menace to society.”

To follow is the affidavit in its entirety, exactly as it was submitted to the Court of Appeals. You can download a PDF copy here. You also can download a copy of the infamous Duggan letter to the Michigan Parole Board here

I encourage you to make a copy of the Duggan letter and make a copy of my affidavit and compare them, paragraph by paragraph. You don’t have to be Perry Mason or Vinny Gambini (My Cousin Vinny) or even Ally McBeal to figure out there’s something terribly wrong with what the cops and prosecutors have said for 28 years about Rick Wershe:

Affidavit of Vince Wade

In Re: Richard J. Wershe, Jr. Michigan Department of Corrections Parole Hearing, March 27, 2003.

State of California    )
                                    ) ss.
County of Orange     )

I, Vince Wade, hereby swear that the following statements are true to the best of my knowledge, information and belief:

1.  I am a reporter and television documentary producer/director with over 40 years of experience in print, radio and television journalism.

2.      I have received some 20 professional awards for my work, including three (3) Emmys and the 1st Place award for best local TV news documentary at the New York and San Francisco International Film Festivals.

3.    I was an on-air investigative reporter, anchor and special projects producer for WXYZ-TV and WJBK-TV, both in Detroit, Michigan from 1972 through 1996.

4.      I am currently researching and writing a non-fiction book about what is known commonly as the War on Drugs, using the case of Richard J. Wershe, Jr. extensively as a focal point to illustrate various issues on the subject, particularly the use of confidential informants.

5.   I have reviewed and researched the testimony, statements and documents submitted in the parole hearing for Richard J. Wershe, Jr. on March 27, 2003.

6. I have discovered serious errors and mischaracterizations presented to the Michigan Parole Board as fact in the 2003 parole hearing for Richard J. Wershe, Jr.

Significant elements of the damaging testimony and documentation presented to the Parole Board during the Wershe hearing can be challenged and refuted through discovery and sworn testimony.

7.   I have researched the allegations and accusations contained in a February 17, 2003 letter to the Michigan Parole Board purportedly written by then-Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Duggan in support of denial of a parole for Mr. Wershe. That letter has been cited by the Michigan Attorney General’s office in several filings with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan and with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Through a spokesman, Mr. Duggan has stated that he has no recollection of writing the letter. Thus, there is a question as to whether someone else in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office wrote the letter and submitted it to the Michigan Parole Board under Mr. Duggan’s name.

8.     The purported Duggan letter states: “When the police attempted to arrest him, he (Wershe) belligerently fought with the officers and assaulted them.” There was a scuffle, in fact there were several scuffles involving various individuals at the arrest scene, but Wershe was never charged with assaulting a police officer. In truth, after his arrest Mr. Wershe was not taken to jail but he was taken instead to a Detroit hospital for treatment of injuries, including a broken eye socket, sustained in a beating by Detroit Police officers while he was handcuffed, on the ground and in custody.

9.      The purported Duggan letter states: “Wershe had 17.5 pounds or approximately 8 kilos of cocaine that was taken to the next door neighbor's house by David Golly, and placed under their porch.” This one sentence in the purported Duggan letter contains multiple errors and misstatements of the official court record in the Wershe case.  Discovery and witness testimony would show Wershe never “had” the cocaine at the time of his arrest.  There is no testimony that there was cocaine in the vehicle in which Mr. Wershe was a passenger when the vehicle was stopped by the police.

Wershe’s fingerprints and palm prints were not on the box of cocaine confiscated by the police as part of his arrest. The court record clearly shows the box was not “…taken to the next door neighbor’s house…” Wershe was stopped by the police on Hampshire St. in Detroit. The 17.5 pounds of cocaine was later found under the porch of a home on Camden Ave., a block away from the police stop.

Furthermore, a review of the testimony of David Golly in Mr. Wershe’s preliminary examination would show Mr. Golly never handled the box and never placed it under a porch. Mr. Golly spotted the box under the porch of a neighbor named Story—“I saw a box up under the porch”—and another man known as “Moosey” retrieved the box and brought it in the Story house—“Mr. Story asked him to bring it in the to his son’s bedroom.” The preceding quotes are from the official preliminary exam court record. Mr. Golly observed certain events but did not handle the “box” as described in the purported Duggan letter to the Michigan Parole Board, nor did he see Wershe with the box at any time. The letter does not accurately reflect the official court record on this issue.

10.  The purported Duggan letter states: "From the records, it appears that Wershe's gang and the police were contemporaneously looking for the cocaine up and down the street, both trying to find it first." There is nothing in the testimony in the Wershe case or in court documents to substantiate the statement that Wershe had a “gang” as the term is commonly used in law enforcement. No one has ever been charged as an associate or member of a Wershe “gang.” No Wershe “gang” member was arrested or detained or taken in to custody at the time of his arrest.

11.   The purported Duggan letter states: “Wershe had the unmitigated gall and audacity to go right out again to engage in a drug deal involving 5 more kilos of cocaine.” The purported Duggan letter fails to inform the Parole Board that this case, which was filed some five months after Wershe’s May, 1987 arrest, was dismissed at the preliminary exam stage due to questions of possibly planted evidence and an improper search warrant.

12.  The purported Duggan letter states: "Several of Wershe's gang members were found dead." As noted in paragraph 10, there is nothing in any federal or state court records to indicate anyone was ever identified or charged as Wershe “gang members.” Furthermore, former Detroit Police Homicide Inspector William Rice, who has submitted a sworn affidavit in regard to the Wershe parole hearing, states Wershe’s name “never came up” in any homicide investigations while he was in charge of the Detroit Police Homicide unit, which encompassed the time up to Mr. Wershe’s incarceration in state prison. If any homicide victim had been associated with Wershe, Rice would have been aware of that fact. One of Wershe’s associates was murdered but that was as the result of a romantic triangle and was not related to narcotics trafficking. Thus, there is no evidence to support the implied drug violence in the allegation that “several of Wershe’s gang members were found dead.”

13.  The purported Duggan letter states: "Witnesses in inmate Wershe's case just disappeared." This statement is a gross distortion of the truth. Witness David Golly, for example, did disappear after Mr. Wershe’s preliminary examination and failed to appear to testify at Mr. Wershe’s trial. But Mr. Golly has since stated in a sworn affidavit that he was hiding from the police and not out of fear of Mr. Wershe.  Mr. Golly claims prior to the Wershe preliminary examination, four police officers took him to a downtown Detroit hotel where they pressured and intimated him. Golly states one officer told him "...Rick is goin' down. We got him where we want him and you goin' help us get him there." Golly said he refused and was roughed up. "He told me that he wanted me to testify against him. I told him no and he smacked me upside my head and said, 'Yes, you is…”

14.  The purported Duggan letter states: "Inmate Wershe is precisely the kind of drug dealer, gang leader, notorious violent kingpin that the over 650 g of controlled substances-lifer law was written for, and meant to punish."

In truth, a fair and honest inquiry will show Wershe has never been tried or convicted for any violent crime. Furthermore, there is not a single shred of evidence to support the “kingpin” slur against Wershe. He has never been charged in federal or state court with conspiracy. He has never been charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise. He has never been named as a co-conspirator or unindicted co-conspirator. His name was never mentioned during the course of any of the major drug trafficking trials in the federal and state criminal courts in Detroit or any other venue during the era when Mr. Wershe was on the streets.

15.  The purported Duggan letter states: "Wershe's violent collateral crimes and the sheer volume of controlled substances that were introduced to the City of Detroit confirm that Wershe is a serious danger to the People of the City of Detroit and all of Southeastern Michigan, in particular." As I stated previously Wershe has never been arrested for, or charged with, any “violent collateral crimes” and in a full inquiry the Michigan Attorney General’s office and the Wayne County Prosecutor would be forced to admit this is a totally false accusation by the former Wayne County Prosecutor.

16.  The purported Duggan letter states: "Wershe profited from the countless drug sales that his gang made, and the criminal enterprise that he built..." There are no court records—local or federal—to indicate Mr. Wershe had a gang that made “countless” drug sales and as noted previously Wershe has never been charged with operating or participating in a continuing criminal enterprise.

17.   The purported Duggan letter states: "I have been contacted by many people including law enforcement officers from both the federal and state levels that are currently unwilling to publicly oppose Wershe's release for fear of retaliation against them, their families, and continue to be fearful that Wershe would even be considered for release." The only witness intimidation I have found in my inquiry into the Wershe 2003 parole hearing is alleged to have been perpetrated by police officers.

I have not found any evidence to indicate the Michigan Parole Board made any effort to work with prosecutors to obtain confidential testimony from any implied intimidated witness, including law enforcement officers who allegedly fear for their safety and the safety of their families if they testify about Richard J. Wershe, Jr.

18.  I submitted a Michigan Freedom of Information Act request to current Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy on February 6, 2015, requesting copies of any and all documentation supporting the claims and assertions contained in the purported 2003 Duggan letter to the Michigan Parole board. In a response dated February 10, 2015, to my FOIA request for documentation supporting the purported Duggan letter, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office advised me: "Your request is denied. After a diligent search for the records, we have determined and certify the records do not exist."

19. I have discovered in my research that some law enforcement documentation submitted at the Wershe 2003 parole hearing is, in some cases, highly misleading and in other cases false. For example, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Richard Crock submitted to the Parole Board a report of a statement from a confidential informant claiming Richard J. Wershe, Jr. sold weapons to an associate of the notorious Chambers Brothers drug gang. The Chambers Brothers gang was tried and convicted in federal court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Agent Crock neglected to tell the Parole Board that the DEA confidential informant—Terry Colbert—whose statement to the DEA was provided to the Michigan Parole Board during the Wershe 2003 parole hearing, was indicted and convicted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit for repeated perjury before a federal grand jury and at trial. (See 977 F.2d 203 No. 91-2057) Colbert was indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced on July 31, 1991 and DEA records indicate Agent Crock was fully aware of this fact at the time, yet failed to mention it to the Parole Board in 2003.

20. I have discovered in my research that another DEA investigative report submitted to the Michigan Parole Board in the 2003 Wershe hearing claims Roy Grisson, a Wershe associate, was shot and seriously wounded in an attempted murder ordered by Mr. Wershe. The DEA-6 report about Mr. Grisson indicates he supplied Agent Crock and other investigators with information about the drug activities of the so-called Wershe organization. In interviews, Mr. Grisson told me the shooting was the result of a plain armed robbery attempt and had nothing to do with Mr. Wershe. Furthermore, Mr. Grisson states he was kidnapped from the hospital by law enforcement officers as he was recovering from his wounds and taken to a suburban motel where he was “sweated” and “pressured” to make false statements against Wershe. When he refused Mr. Grisson states the police put him in a van and drove him to downtown Detroit where they “dumped” him in front of a retail store. Mr. Grisson has told me any statement in the DEA files purportedly signed by him is a false document with a forged signature and he is prepared to testify under oath to the truthfulness of this claim if called upon to do so.

21. I have noted in my research that with the exception of Special Agent Crock of the DEA, not one of the law enforcement officers testifying against Wershe’s parole ever had any contact with him in their police work.

  22. I have read a sworn affidavit by William Rice, the former head of the Homicide unit of the Detroit Police Department, that he was ordered “through channels” to testify against Wershe. Rice further stated he was provided with Wershe’s federal grand jury testimony as part of a briefing binder to help him prepare to testify at the Wershe parole hearing.  I have spoken directly with U.S. District Court Judge Avern Cohn of the Eastern District of Michigan who told me he has never unsealed Wershe’s federal grand jury testimony. Thus it would appear that someone committed a felony in releasing sealed federal grand jury testimony to prepare witnesses to testify against Richard J. Wershe, Jr. at the 2003 hearing. I have not been able to find any evidence this serious violation has ever been investigated.
 23. I have noted in my research that three (3) Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents testified in favor of Wershe’s parole while two (2) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents testified against his parole, yet the Michigan Parole Board asked no questions and made no effort to reconcile this direct contradiction between the views of federal law enforcement agents regarding the advisability of parole for Wershe.
  24.  I have noted in my research that contrary to claims by the Wayne County Prosecutor that Richard J. Wershe, Jr. was a drug “kingpin”, several convicted major drug dealers who were actively selling drugs in Detroit during the time Mr. Wershe was on the streets have stated on the record to other reporters and to me that Richard J. Wershe, Jr. was never a major drug trafficker or “kingpin.”                                                 One Detroit drug figure from that era responded to a question from me about Wershe’s “kingpin” status by posing two rhetorical questions:
·        “Does it make any sense to think a white teenager was giving drug trafficking orders to violent adult black men with prison records?
·        And does it make any sense to think a white teenager could possess, control and distribute millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine in Detroit’s black drug trade without getting killed?”

I make this affidavit on my own volition without any remuneration or promises from anyone. If called to testify I would state under oath that the foregoing information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.

Signature:    ___________________

Address:  _____________________


SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO before this ___ day of ______, 2016 by


Notary Public – California
My Commission expires:______________

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Prosecutor Kym Worthy blinked—sorta—on parole for Rick Wershe

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has decided, at long last, that maybe, perhaps, she should take a second look at parole for Richard “White Boy Rick” Wershe, Jr. who is serving a life prison term for a non-violent drug conviction when he was a teenager. Wershe is no ordinary doper. He was a secret teen informant for the FBI, and he told on some very politically connected people who were profiting from the Detroit drug trade. Worthy has fought ferociously to keep Wershe in prison even though opinions among many in law enforcement and the general public, have changed about Wershe. What did she say about parole for Wershe and what’s next?

There’s a tradition in Corporate America known as the Friday Afternoon Bad News Drop. Publicly traded corporations learned years ago that it is often advantageous to release bad news late on a Friday afternoon. The traditional Bad News Drop occurs after the stock market has closed for the weekend, investors have their attention focused on two days off and newsrooms are sparsely staffed because the Saturday edition is always the smallest edition of the paper with the fewest pages and the fewest reporters to fill them. Corporate PR flacks understand bad news is likely to get the least attention and the least news coverage if it’s released late on a Friday.

We don’t know if that thinking was a part of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s decision this past Friday afternoon to drop a bombshell about her possible willingness to consider parole for Richard Wershe, Jr., known in the media as White Boy Rick.

Kym Worthy - Wayne County Prosecutor (Photo: Al Goldis, AP)

She issued a written statement which said: "Having been immersed in the Juvenile Life Without Parole Murder cases for the last six months, I have noted parallels to the Richard Wershe case that have caused me to review the office position in his case," Worthy said in her statement. "However, it is important to note that only the Michigan Parole Board determines who does or doesn't receive parole.”

Let’s explore the background and what may happen next.

Worthy has taken a lot of heat in recent months, some of it from the Informant America blog, about her hard ass attitude about Wershe and others convicted as juveniles.

In 2010, Essence, a monthly magazine for African American women, did a lengthy profile of Worthy and labeled her “The Toughest Woman In Detroit.” It seems to have gone to Prosecutor Worthy’s head. She has a magazine headline reputation to maintain.

The Prosecutor seems to enjoy her rep.

Not long ago Prosecutor Worthy captured national headlines—of the worst sort—for the wrongful imprisonment of Devontae Sanford, a developmentally-challenged young man who was prosecuted by Worthy’s office and sentenced to prison for a quadruple murder he didn’t commit. An admitted hitman, himself in prison, came forward and said, several times, he was the killer, not Sanford. Worthy was having none of it until a wrongful imprisonment advocacy group took up the Sanford case and more or less forced a new investigation. Worthy reluctantly went along with releasing Devontae Sanford after he had spent eight years in prison.

While all of this was going Worthy and the rest of Michigan’s county prosecutors were working to review cases where inmates who were sent to prison as juveniles for murder were reconsidered under a directive from the U.S. Supreme Court that those sentenced to life in their teens should be re-sentenced except in rare and unusual cases.

Next came a scathing report by the Harvard University Law School’s Fair Punishment Project singling Worthy out among the nation’s 2,300 county prosecutors as “an extreme outlier” on the issue of juvenile sentencing.

Cover of Harvard Law School report on Kym Worthy and Juvenile Justice

The Harvard Law School, arguably the nation’s most prestigious law school, singled Worthy out alone among the nation’s prosecutors for persisting in wanting inmates sentenced when they were teens to spend their entire lives behind bars.

The Detroit news media didn’t do much with the Harvard report on Worthy but an Informant America blog post was devoted to it. That post hit a nerve. It has had over 25,000 unique page views. That’s quite a few for a niche blog that isn’t marketed to the search engines. It means 25,000 Internet surfers heard about it and sought it out to read. Did someone among all those readers have influence on Worthy? Did she get heat from the judges and lawyers of Detroit for being singled out as a prosecutorial oddity on juvenile crime cases? Did some string-pulling political pooh-bah whisper in her ear that now is the time to back off the Wershe parole issue? We don’t know and she’s not about to tell us.

So what’s next for Rick Wershe? Good question. No one knows, for now.

His next parole review is scheduled for December, 2017, over a year from now. The Michigan Parole Board, which is responsible to no one except Gov. Snyder, who has absolutely zero interest in prison and corrections matters, can do whatever it chooses. The board can vote at any time to bring an inmate’s case up for review. They don’t have to follow the schedule if they don’t want to. They are the ones who make up the schedule, anyway.

Let’s go back and look carefully at what Kym Worthy said Friday. She said in reviewing the Juvenile Life Without Parole Murder cases she noted “parallels to the Richard Wershe case.” She carefully said those parallels “have caused me to review the office position in his case.” She didn’t say she won’t oppose his release on parole. She didn’t say she favors his release. She only said she has reviewed her office's position on his case, whatever that means. Presumably, it means if the Parole Board or someone else takes the initiative to free Rick Wershe, she may go along with it. Kym Worthy sure as hell doesn’t want to advocate his parole, not after all these months of stubbornly and foolishly fighting to keep him in prison. That would be too much crow to eat at one sitting.

The State of Michigan may take the initiative to cut its losses on Wershe due to a lawsuit in federal court. Wershe has a civil rights lawsuit going against the Michigan Parole Board for failing to provide him with a fair parole hearing. Readers of Informant America know there are plenty of reasons to question the kangaroo-court quality of Wershe’s one and only parole hearing in 2003.

Ralph Musilli, Wershe’s long-battling attorney, knows it, too. A federal judge in Grand Rapids tried to dismiss Wershe’s lawsuit but the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said, not so fast.

Wershe’s civil rights case is now before the appeals court and Musilli has asked for oral arguments, a request that is usually granted. The Michigan Attorney General’s office, representing the state parole board, filed a reply last month that essentially says, “Us, too. We want oral arguments, too.” If they didn’t do that it might have left Musilli in court alone to answer questions from the bench.

Up to now, the lawyers on both sides and the various judges who've been involved in the Wershe soap opera have been engaged in a never-ending circular argument over which case law applies. “Graham applies!” “No, it doesn’t!” “Yes, it does!” “No, it doesn’t.” This has gone on over and over and over. And it has gone nowhere.

In the state’s pleadings in the federal lawsuit the Attorney General keeps including an extremely harsh letter purportedly written by then-Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Duggan, now the Mayor of the City of Detroit. That letter, on its face, is a summary of Rick Wershe’s life of crime. It flat-out calls him a menace to society.

The purported Mike Duggan letter about parole for Rick Wershe is astonishingly harsh.

For judges who are unfamiliar with the White Boy Rick saga that letter, which Duggan says he doesn’t remember, is the primary recitation of "facts" about Wershe  to consider in terms of their willingness to give him a break. All of the court machinations to now have been about the "law" and not about the "facts" of whether Wershe is or isn't a menace to society. The court system has gone to great lengths to avoid a re-examination of factual assertions in the Wershe case, even though there are numerous questionable "facts" in the Duggan letter. They keep wanting to re-hash case law when it's Wershe's reputation as a drug "kingpin" that is keeping him behind bars.

The oral arguments before the federal court of appeals can be an opportunity for Musilli to finally challenge the Duggan letter before a panel of judges who can order a hearing regarding the truth or falsity of the claims about Wershe’s life of crime. If they order a full hearing with court-ordered discovery of evidence and maybe even testimony from witnesses, watch out. The Michigan Attorney General and the Wayne County Prosecutor will suddenly find themselves struggling to climb uphill on a very steep incline.

If the lawyers in the Attorney General’s office have any sense—this is assuming a fact not in evidence, as they say in court—they will realize they could find themselves in a deep hole in such a hearing. If that risk dawns on them the powers-that-be in Lansing may decide Rick Wershe needs an expedited parole hearing in order to get him out of the system and avoid high profile embarrassment for going to such lengths to punish a drug kingpin who never was.

Rick Wershe can hope. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Does anyone in power have the guts to do right by Rick Wershe?

People famous and not-so-famous are getting released from prison left and right. But not Rick Wershe, Jr. He’s been behind bars for over 28 years. Drug underworld murderers don’t serve that much time. Do any of Michigan’s criminal justice “leaders” have the guts to step up and emphasize the word “justice” in criminal justice? Not so far. Do any of the federal agencies which used him callously as a juvenile informant believe they have an obligation to a man who helped them put major drug dealers and corrupt cops behind bars? Apparently not.

Shortened prison terms have been in the news lately, sandwiched in between the latest Barnum and Bailey stunts and showboating in our nation’s pathetic ordeal of selecting a new leader.

John Hinckley, Jr.-would-be presidential assassin

John Hinckley, Jr., the man who tried to murder President Ronald Reagan, was released from custody in early August. His case was reevaluated and psychiatric “experts” proclaimed Hinckley is no longer a threat to society or himself.

Last week, President Barack Obama shortened the prison sentences for 214 more drug dealers serving time in federal prisons. Obama hopes to pardon or commute the sentences of another 1,300 federal inmates before he leaves office.

Rick Wershe, Jr. displays some of his art work completed in prison.

Yesterday, I spoke by phone with Rick Wershe, Jr. in a call from the prison where he spends his days:

Me: “What’s new with you, Rick?”
Rick Wershe, Jr: “Nothin’.”

That’s precisely the problem. No one in the Michigan criminal justice system or the federal justice system has the interest or the compassion to do anything about the life sentence of a man who one former FBI agent described as the most valuable informant the Detroit Division of the FBI had in that era terms of the drug trade.

No one currently in a position of authority in federal law enforcement shows the least bit of interest in helping a guy who helped them in a major way back in the 80s. The lazy, self-serving rationalization taking place on the 26th floor of the McNamara Federal Building (Detroit’s FBI office) and in the U.S. Attorney’s office a few blocks away goes something like this:

Hey, that was a long time ago. That’s too bad about Wershe, but he’s not our problem. We only care about pending investigations, indictments and trials, cases that can help us advance our careers today.

At the local and state level it isn’t about the past. It’s about keeping the flame. In this case the “flame” is a vendetta started by Detroit’s late mayor Coleman Young and City Council President Gil Hill.

Together and separately, they had their reasons for wanting Richard J. Wershe, Jr. to die in prison.

From 1984 until sometime in 1986, Rick Wershe was a paid teen informant for the FBI who helped the Bureau and the Justice Department successfully prosecute the Curry Brothers, a politically connected dope gang with ties by marriage to Mayor Young.

Even after he went to prison on a life sentence for drugs, Wershe continued to help the FBI pursue drug corruption in Detroit.

Nearly a dozen cops were nabbed in an FBI undercover sting operation in which they were providing “police protection” for what they believed were drug and cash shipments by men they thought were part of the Miami drug smuggling underworld. It turns out the dopers were undercover FBI agents.

That FBI sting operation was possible because of introductions made by Wershe while he was in Marquette State Prison.

Cathy Volsan Curry-FBI Surveillance photo

Cathy Volsan Curry, Mayor Young’s favorite niece, had had an affair with Wershe just before he went to prison. Wershe was able to contact her to get the undercover sting started. Cathy Volsan Curry brought in her drug-dealing father, Willie Clyde Volsan, the mayor’s brother-in-law.

Willie Clyde Volsan-convicted drug dealer, father of Cathy Volsan  Curry, brother-in-law of  Coleman Young (FBI surveillance photo)

Willie Volsan, in turn, brought in cops willing to be bought to protect drugs and drug cash.

Detroit city councilman Gil Hill, Willie Volsan (back to camera), former Sgt. James Harris, Detroit Police Department (FBI surveillance photo)

Volsan also brought in one of his political pals; Detroit city councilman Gil Hill, an ex-cop. The FBI set up undercover meetings with Hill who backed out at the last minute and thus avoided being indicted.

Coleman Young, left, Willie Volsan, right (Detroit Free Press photo, FBI Surveillance photo)

Thus, Richard J. Wershe, Jr. made enemies of the two most powerful men in Detroit black politics: Coleman Young and Gil Hill.

Detroit’s black political machine was outraged that a teenage Detroit kid—a WHITE Detroit kid—had been able to get close to the corruption in their empire and to help the equally detested FBI go after them.

Racial politics is a part of the Rick Wershe story. He’s white. The people who are waging a lifelong vendetta against him are black—mostly. So far the black political machine is winning, with the help of cowardly whites in the criminal justice system who are too afraid to stand up for what’s right when it might cost them votes in the City of Detroit, which is over 84 percent black and still the largest city in Michigan.

Kym Worthy, Wayne County Prosecutor (Photo: Al Goldis-AP)

Informant America has made the argument repeatedly that Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is a stooge of Detroit’s black political machine. She came up through it. She owes her career to it. We don’t know if black racism toward Wershe is part of her ceaseless campaign to keep him in prison. We don’t know if she’s helping the late Gil Hill maintain a vendetta from the grave because of a close past personal relationship between them. We don’t know if it’s because she wallows in her reputation as the toughest woman in Detroit. All we know is she has spent considerable taxpayer money in terms of staff time and resources fighting to keep Wershe in prison long after murderers sent to jail by her office have been set free without resistance from Worthy.

But there are others who need a close look.

Mike Duggan, Mayor of Detroit-he can't remember a letter he supposedly wrote

There’s Detroit’s white mayor, Mike Duggan, who allegedly wrote a hellfire-and-brimstone letter to the Michigan Parole Board stating Wershe was a menace to society who deserves to die in prison. Duggan conveniently claims he “doesn’t recall” writing such a letter. It’s a modern-day version of Pontius Pilate washing his hands of the matter of this man’s fate.

Michael Talbot-Michigan Court of Appeals (Photo: David Coates, Detroit News)

There’s Michigan Court of Appeals Michael Talbot who has a long-standing reputation as a bully and judicial thug. The Court of Appeals played cute with Wershe’s attempt to be treated like hundreds of other Michigan inmates and the ruling against Wershe has Talbot’s fingerprints all over it. By rights Talbot should be investigated for chronic abuse of judicial power, not just in the Wershe case but in many others. But Talbot is an entrenched figure in Michigan’s judicial power establishment. Ain’t nobody gonna touch him and he knows it.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder-he won't risk drinking un-bottled water and he won't risk commuting the sentence of Rick Wershe, Jr. (Photo: Saul  Loeb-AFP/Getty Images)

There’s Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who, like Mike Duggan, has washed his hands of the Wershe matter by referring it to the Michigan Parole Board which Wershe is suing for violating his civil rights. Snyder could end this with the stroke of a pen granting Wershe a pardon or commutation, but Snyder is too busy trying to dodge blame in the Flint Water atrocity to deal with “Corrections” matters. In Lansing, the buck stops anywhere but on Rick Snyder’s desk.

Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court

Then there’s the gutless Michigan Supreme Court, which recently refused to hear Wershe’s appeal and refused to put their names to the decision, which is common practice. Their decision was handed down without any of the Justices having the guts to put his/her name to condemning this man to continue his days behind bars. We mustn’t forget; the Michigan Supreme Court is an elective office. Gotta make sure Detroit’s blacks aren’t enraged by doing by justice by a white guy who ratted on black corruption. Any Michigan Supreme Court Justice who does right by Rick Wershe, Jr. fears losing votes in Detroit come the next election.

The injustices of the justice system have a long history. A French lawyer from the1700s named Montesquieu nailed it: “There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.”