DETROIT – Richard Wershe Jr., formerly known as “White Boy Rick,” is set to appear in court Wednesday afternoon to denounce the city of Detroit’s effort to dismiss a civil lawsuit he brought against the city, several Detroit law enforcers and others for their alleged role in his decadeslong imprisonment.
In July 2020, one year after his release from prison, Wershe filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Detroit and a number of law enforcement members, FBI agents and attorneys seeking $100 million in damages for their alleged role in Wershe’s 32-year imprisonment.
Locked up at 17 years old, Wershe is the longest-serving nonviolent juvenile offender in Michigan history. The man was initially sentenced to life in prison, but instead earned his parole in 2017 and was released in July 2020.
At age 14, Wershe became the youngest FBI informant ever, helping to bring down some of Detroit’s biggest drug dealers. But then he became a drug dealer himself and ended up in prison for three decades.
Now, Wershe is looking to hold the city of Detroit and individual law enforcers and agents responsible for his imprisonment through a civil lawsuit, accusing the defendants of child abuse. The $100 million lawsuit claims Wershe was coerced into assisting police while he was an unsuspecting teen.
“Having worked undercover for the FBI and Detroit police starting as a child at the tender age of 14, Wershe is the youngest FBI informant in this history of this nation,” reads a statement from attorneys representing Wershe at Ayad Law, PLLC. “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.”
In response, the city of Detroit has moved to dismiss Wershe’s lawsuit, arguing that conditions from the city’s 2013 bankruptcy filing prevent the man from legally seeking claims against the city.
The city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Under the court’s order, any entities seeking damages from the city were required to file their claims by Feb. 21, 2014.
According to court documents, anyone who did not file a claim against the city prior to the 2014 deadline will be “forever barred” from “asserting any claim against the city or property of the city.” In a court document filed on Jan. 4, the city argues that Wershe does not have a case because he did not file claims against the city prior to the Feb. 2014 filing deadline.
“In the amended complaint, the plaintiff asserts claims which arise from or relate to the plaintiff’s alleged work as a confidential informant in the mid 1980s, the alleged wrongful conviction of plaintiff in 1987, plaintiff’s grand jury testimony in 1992 or 1993, and his parole hearing in March 2003,” court documents read.
In a document filed in Sept. 2021, the city also argues that Wershe’s lawsuit comes well past the statute of limitations for filing a civil rights lawsuit in Michigan, which is three years. The statue of limitations begins to run when “the aggrieved party knows or has reason to know of the injury that is the basis of his action,” court documents read. The city argues that Wershe’s statute of limitations began in 2003.
Wershe and his counsel are scheduled to make an argument in favor of the federal lawsuit at 1:30 p.m. at the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, where the lawsuit was filed.
The court has not yet ruled on the city’s motion to dismiss Wershe’s lawsuit.
You can read the court documents filed by the city of Detroit below. Also included are documents filed on behalf of Wershe.