DETROIT – For the first time in more than 29 years, "White Boy" Rick Wershe is no longer a Michigan prisoner. He's now in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections and he's on his way south.
Wershe told the Local 4 Defenders Monday night that he was ready to go and get started serving his time in a Florida prison.
More on Wershe's Florida sentence
While he was in a Michigan prison 11 years ago, Wershe introduced his sister, Dawn, to a car salesman. The introduction tied his family to a stolen car ring, and Wershe pleaded guilty to protect his sister and mother from criminal charges.
"They said, 'Listen, this is what we're going to do. If you don't take this plea, we are going to arrest your mom and your sister,'" Wershe said. "It was a forced plea. I don't agree I committed the crime that I was convicted of."
Now that Wershe has been freed in Michigan, it's time to pay the price in Florida. Wershe's attorney asked the Florida court for a furlough to turn himself in, which would have saved Florida money and given Wershe 36 hours of freedom before serving his time.
"The court is of the firm opinion that no such authority exists," a judge said in a written order. "Even if the matter were discretionary with the court, the court will not grant this furlough request after a review of the merits. There is no need for further argument."
No longer Michigan prisoner
Wershe said he wanted to thank everyone in Michigan who helped him finally win parole after nearly three decades behind bars on a juvenile drug offense.
Wershe was picked up by U.S. Marshals Tuesday morning as they began the trip to Florida. He is scheduled to serve 34 months in prison on a five-year sentence.
Wershe became one of Michigan's most notable prisoners when his story went public when he was a 14-year-old boy paid by police to buy and sell drugs on Detroit's east side. As a teenager, he helped police bust some of the city's big-time drug dealers.
"Over the course of two years, I would say probably somewhere around $30,000," Wershe said.
When police stopped paying him, Wershe started selling drugs on his own. A year later, the 17-year-old was busted and sent to prison for life.
In prison, Wershe helped police investigate dirty cops, friends and relatives of former Mayor Coleman A. Young and cop turned Hollywood actor Gill Hill. Wershe said that's why the parole board refused to let him out of prison.
But this summer, he was finally paroled.
"It's like a thousand-pound weight has been lifted off my chest," Wershe said. "I mean, I'll be elated to get what's left of my life back."
Wershe was paroled, but he's not free yet.
It will take a couple of days to drive Wershe to Florida. His final destination is not public record until after he is processed.
Wershe said he wants to stay low-profile in Florida and just do his time. That will be hard, because Hollywood is making a movie about his life, starring Matthew McConaughey. The movie hits theaters in January.