This is a special edition of Informant America. Today the Michigan Parole Board voted to grant Rick Wershe a public hearing regarding a possible parole. It will be the first time he’s been this close to release from his life prison term since 2003.
Rick Wershe got good news on Good Friday. Credit for that observation goes to retired FBI agent Gregg Schwarz, Rick Wershe’s longtime supporter and life coach.
|Rick Wershe, Jr. - a chance - at last|
The Michigan Parole Board has moved one formal step closer to granting Wershe parole from his life sentence for possession of about 8 pounds of cocaine when he was 17 years old. Wershe is Michigan’s last imprisoned life-sentence inmate for a non-violent drug conviction when he was a juvenile. By voting to hold a public hearing, the Board has signaled it is open to considering parole for inmate Wershe.
Wershe, as you might imagine, is over-the-moon happy, but still cautious. “I’m 50% up the mountain!” he says. “Now we just need to get up the other 50%!”
The Parole Board, exercising its bureaucratic authority, reminded everyone who is in charge. They did not specify the hearing date. They told Wershe they’d mail the date to him. Go figure. The location wasn’t announced, either. In the past, the Parole Board has held public hearings for inmate cases in Jackson, Ionia and Detroit.
What we know is the hearing will be at least thirty days from now. That is established procedure in all cases.
A hearing in parole cases is scheduled to give both sides of the question a chance to respond publicly. In cases where an inmate is serving time for murder, for example, the public hearing gives the victim’s family an opportunity to express their opinion on whether the killer should be released. And the inmate’s family and friends get a chance to speak, too.
In the Rick Wershe hearing, he and his attorney, Ralph Musilli, will decide who to put on the witness list. It is not a free-for-all. The Wayne County Prosecutor will be given a chance to object, but Prosecutor Kym Worthy signaled last fall that she was “reconsidering” her position regarding parole for Wershe. Her “side”—law enforcement—may not say anything at all.
That would be in sharp contrast to Wershe's last parole public hearing in 2003, which amounted to a kangaroo court sham intended to keep him in prison. Perjury and conflicting testimony by law enforcement abounded and the Parole Board of that era did nothing about it. That won't happen this time. Wershe and his attorney will be ready for that, should his enemies try that again.
Richard J. Wershe, Jr. has been in prison for 29 years, longer than many admitted paid killers. The major drug dealers he helped the FBI put in prison were released years ago.
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