Richard Wershe Jr., aka White Boy Rick, sues FBI and Detroit police

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Richard Wershe Jr., a former FBI and Detroit police informant known as "White Boy Rick," is suing FBI agents, Detroit police and "others" for alleged child abuse, an attorney for Wershe announced Monday.

Those Wershe has named in the lawsuit includeformer Detroit Police officers William Jasper and Kevin Green, retired FBI agent Herman Groman and Lynn Helland, a former U.S. Attorney. Helland is the current director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.

A news conference is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the lawsuit. 

Wershe was released from prison a year ago after more than three decades behind bars. He was serving a life sentence on a drug conviction when he was sentenced at age 17 in a Wayne County courtroom in 1988.

Rick Wershe Jr. sits into a courtroom at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit in 2015. Wershe, a former FBI and Detroit police informant known as "White Boy Rick," is expected to sue FBI agents, Detroit police and "others" for alleged child abuse, an attorney for Wershe announced Monday.

Wershe was later sent to Florida after Michigan authorities sprung him early from a state prison and released him to the Sunshine State to serve a prison sentence in connection with a car theft ring he was accused of being part of when he was being housed in a Florida prison in the federal witness protection program.

In a press release, attorney Nabih Ayad said the FBI and Detroit police put Wershe, now 52,  at risk when he became an informant for them at the "tender age" of 14.

"The government used Wershe as a child from age 14 to 16, putting him amongst gangsters, killers, drug dealers and thrust him into the world of drug trafficking, and then all turned on him to cover up the illegal and embarrassing nature of their conduct," Ayad said.

"Consequently, Wershe also holds the record as the longest-serving prisoner convicted as a juvenile on a nonhomicide offense in the State of Michigan: 32 years and 7 months; his entire adult life. Wershe was shot while acting as a confidential informant for the FBI and DPD at age 15, and, outrageously, they continued to use him to infiltrate high-level drug gangs in Detroit in the 1980's after this attempted assassination."

Efforts to reach the Detroit office of the FBI for comment Monday were not successful.

“We have not seen the lawsuit nor the allegations in the alleged lawsuit that has yet to be filed," said Rudy Harper, second deputy chief for the Detroit Police Department, on Monday.

Ayad said the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, is the first filed by Wershe.

"Wershe's story has been told in the media, multiple film documentaries, and a Hollywood movie yet, despite the public outcry as to the government's abuse of him, he has yet to receive justice," said Ayad. "For conduct that was not of his free will, but that of a minor who has been used, abused, reused, and re-abused by those that have sworn to protect and serve this country."

Groman and fellow-retired FBI  agent Gregg Schwarz have spoken in the past on behalf of Wershe as he waged a lengthy battle to be released from prison as he saw other inmates convicted on drug crimes leave years earlier."

Ayad said Tuesday after the filing "Groman tried later (to help Wershe) but the damage had already been done."

Ayad said "we didn't want to include Helland but we had no way around it as he made promises to Rick. He did want to help Rick, but his hands (were)  tied."

Wershe, in a 2017 interview with The Detroit News, said he's a different person than when he went into prison decades ago. 

"The older you get, you have a different outlook on life and different things are important to you," said Wershe, who added at the time that he wanted to write screenplays. "Now what's important to me is going out and doing something to be proud of and make the people that stood up for me make them proud and not let them down."

Wershe went into prison as a teen and came out in July 2020 as a 51-year-old father of three grown children and a grandfather of six. Wershe's father, Richard Wershe Sr., died while his son was in prison.

Paroled in Michigan in 2017, Wershe was sent to Florida to serve time for a 2006 conviction stemming from his role in a car theft ring. The offenses occurred while he was incarcerated in Florida as part of the federal witness protection program.

Wershe's longtime attorney Ralph Mussili died in February at the age of 77.  Musilli told The News last year that Wershe's lengthy incarceration was an "inexcusable" and unusual punishment.

"His whole life has gone by, for God's sake," Musilli said at the time. He first represented Wershe when he was 15. "That's inexcusable. It really is. He was not involved in any violence at all."

Wershe has given few interviews since being released from prison and has maintained a very low profile.

Ayad told The News Monday he would release the names of others being named in the lawsuit once it is filed.