Matthew McConaughey to star as Rick Wershe’s father in ‘White Boy’ Rick movie
DETROIT – Superstar actor Matthew McConaughey will star as Rick Wershe’s father in a movie about the story of “White Boy” Rick, Local 4 Defender Kevin Dietz has confirmed.
Filming for the movie is scheduled to being in Detroit and Cleveland in March.
Scott Franklin is producing the movie. He’s won awards for movies, including “Black Swan” and “The Wrestler.” Yann Demange is directing, fresh off his award winning film “71.”
Some of the biggest names in Hollywood are expected to participate in the film, which Wershe hopes will help him earn his freedom.
“We worked hard,” he said. “It took longer than anticipated, but I think it’s going to be a good project. I think it’s going to show a true story of what happened.”
Wershe was a police informant at 14 years old — given cash to snitch on drug dealers in his Detroit neighborhood — when police stopped paying him. He started selling drugs, and at 17 years old, he was caught and has been in jail ever since, despite continuing to helping police catch dirty cops and drug dealers from behind bars.
It’s unheard of that a person would spend more than 28 years in prison for a nonviolent drug crime.
He was within hours of a court hearing that could have set him free, but it never happened.
The Wayne County prosecutor originally objected, the court of appeals agreed and the Supreme Court refused to hear any of it.
“It’s sad,” Wershe said. “The people who don’t have the backbone to change the law or don’t care. They’re basically stealing my life one day at a time.”
Local 4 legal expert Neil Rockind said that “everybody believes Rick Wershe should be released. … If you asked the public (are) our (legal) representatives doing what we would like them to do? The nearly universal answer would be ‘no.'”
Wershe said the justice system has failed him, and he hopes the movie will create national outrage toward those responsible.
“Thirty years for a drug charge, it’s a bit much,” Wershe said. “Especially when they’re letting off people for murders.”
Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced she would reevaluate her position on Wershe’s parole in August.
It’s possible Wershe could be out in time for the movie’s premiere. The parole board is supposed to have a hearing in 2017 to consider his release.
How Wershe got involved
In the 1980s, the crack epidemic led to a wild west scene in Detroit, and Wershe quickly learned from some of the most infamous criminals how to run a successful drug-dealing business.
Wershe became involved with the Curry organization before kingpin Johnny Curry, along with his brother Leo, were sentenced to 20 years. They have both since been released from prison.
After the Curry brothers went to jail, Wershe began moving up the ranks and soon controlled much of the crack trade on Detroit’s east side.
Wershe soon began dating Curry’s wife, Cathy Volsen, who was also the niece of former Mayor Coleman Young.
Wershe’s success soon ran out when the DEA targeted his operation, orchestrating drug buys and executing search warrants that ultimately led to his arrest.
Early into serving his prison sentence, Wershe was convicted of participating in a stolen car ring from behind bars. In an interview Local 4 did back in 1990, Wershe said he had made mistakes but was willing to make up for it by turning in some of Detroit’s most powerful people.
In an attempt to shorten his prison time, Wershe began assisting the FBI as an informant, ultimately resulting in the conviction of corrupt police officers in the Detroit area.
“I embarrassed a lot of people,” Wershe said. “All I did was what I was asked, and all I did was tell the truth.”
The information provided by Wershe led to the arrests of family and friends of Coleman Young, including his favorite bodyguard, Jimmy Harris; his brother-in-law, Willie Volsen; and his niece, Cathy Volsen.
“He was extremely upset at me,” Wershe said. “I thought any mayor would love to have corrupt cops off of their force but to Coleman Young, I was a stool pigeon.”
Gregg Schwarz was the FBI agent who turned Wershe’s information into new arrests and said that Wershe should have been thanked by the Michigan Parole Board and released from prison.
Wershe also provided information on one of Detroit’s most popular cops, Gil Hill, a homicide boss who allegedly helped a drug dealer cover up the shooting death of a 12-year-old. Wershe claims he heard a phone call between Hill and the murderer.
“Basically Gil told him everything that was going on and that he had it under control and that he would be in touch and not to worry about anything,” Wershe said.
Hill was investigated but never charged.
Alan Dershowitz: ‘This is a terrible, terrible injustice’
Local 4’s Kevin Dietz went to New York City to discuss the White Boy Rick case with high-profile attorney Alan Dershowitz.
“The idea that he is being kept in jail because of something they know but won’t share with the general public is completely antagonist to American democratic principles,” said Dershowitz, who is investigating the case.
Appeals court denies resentencing
It appeared Wershe might finally get his day in court. But prosecutors who had fought to keep him behind bars immediately appealed Wayne County Judge Dana Hathaway’s ruling.
In September 2015, the Court of Appeals decided Wershe would not be resentenced for the drug crimes.
“The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has prevailed in the Michigan Court of Appeals and the defendant’s original sentence remains in effect,” the prosecutor’s office announced.
Wershe was let down, but not surprised.
“I’m disappointed, let down a little bit, but I expected it, to be honest with you,” he said. “After all this time in here, you don’t believe you are going to get out of here until the day you walk out of here. I’ll keep fighting until my dying breath.”