Richard Wershe, Jr., better known as “White Boy Rick,” claims FBI agents induced him to act as an informant at age 14–and that, if it were not for the department’s pressure, he never would have become involved in the drug trade.
The Detroit-area man whose life inspired the movie “White Boy Rick” has filed a lawsuit against former FBI agents and prosecutors, saying he was coerced into acting as a police informant, instructed to deal drugs, and then abandoned to the courts.
Richard Wershe Jr., now 52 years old, served 30 years in a Michigan prison before being released. Shortly afterward, he was again incarcerated in Florida for unrelated crimes.
Now, Wershe’s federal lawsuit alleges that his legal troubles in the 1980s were caused by local police and the FBI, who used him as an informant and sent him to collude and socialize with drug dealers.
Wershe is seeking at least $100 million damages and compensation.
Wershe’s attorney, Nabih Ayad, told The Detroit Free Press he believes the that city, along with other defendants, will try to argue that Wershe’s claims are too old to bring to court.
“This is a unique case,” Ayad wrote in the complaint. “Our Constitution, our justice system, and God-given right to all humanity calls on this court to finally bring justice to a man whose life has been taken from him at the tender age of 14 all the way up to 51 years of age.”
According to the BBC, Wershe was recruited by the FBI at age 14, and is believed to be the youngest-ever informant in departmental history.
In the 10-page complaint, Wershe suggests he was never involved in crime. Rather, his family only attracted the attention of local and federal authorities after his father reached out to the FBI, concerned that his daughter was dating a known drug dealer.
Agents were purportedly impressed with Wershe’s recall and ability to quickly identify suspects’ faces from photographs; they then asked him to work as informant, providing information on Detroit-area gangs and organized crime.
“Had I not been an informant for the task force,” Wershe wrote in the suit, “I would never have gotten involved with drug gangs or criminality of any sort.”
Wershe says he was “coerced” into continuing the work, even though he claims local criminals tried to kill him after suspecting he might have links to law enforcement.
But after two years of working with police and the FBI, Wershe says he became “blinded by money, women, and material possessions,” and began partaking in the narcotics trade without law enforcement approval or oversight.
Wershe, adds the BBC, was convicted of cocaine possession at the age of 17. Despite being a juvenile, he was charged as an adult and received a life sentence.
“I was misguided,” Wershe told The Guardian. “I went down a path that I never thought would affect the rest of my life.”