FBI sting involving 'White Boy Rick' uncovered by Local 4 Defenders

One of the biggest sting operations in Detroit public corruption history

DETROIT – A sting that led to one of the biggest corruption cases in Michigan history was made possible because of Rick Wershe Jr., also known as "White Boy Rick."

Local 4 has the video of one of the biggest sting operations in Detroit public corruption history -- Operation Backbone.

The video shows Willie Volsen, the brother in-law of then Mayor Coleman A. Young sitting on a couch. Next to him is Detroit police officer Jimmy Harris, who was Young's body guard at the time.

The two men are on a yacht in Miami. They believe it belongs to an international drug dealer, Mike Diaz. However, it does not -- it belongs to the FBI. Diaz is really an undercover FBI agent named Mike Castro.

Diaz offers the men $50,000 to put together a team of dirty cops to protect 100-kilo cocaine shipments from Miami to Detroit City Airport.

The video shows them agree to a deal and shake hands.

Operation Backbone was an effort on the part of the FBI to identify law enforcement corruption. Twelve police officers were caught because of the operation. One man was behind the sting: White Boy Rick.

In an interview with Wershe, Local 4 Defender Kevin Dietz asked if Wershe was surprised or if he knew they would go for it.

"I knew they would. There was no doubt in my mind, I just told you that I knew that if money was involved that they would take the money," said Wershe.

For the sting to work Wershe called his former girlfriend, Cathy Volsen Curry, Young's niece. He told her Mike Diaz was one of his close friends in the drug world and that he could be trusted.

They said Diaz was Dawn Wershe's boyfriend. Dawn is Rick Wershe's sister. They all met for dinner at the Whitney in Detroit to discuss making money off the shipment of cocaine into Detroit.

"I thought everything went well. She was at ease. I don't think she had a care in the world, thinking anything other than what we told her," Dawn Wershe said in an interview with Dietz.

"She wanted in?" asked Dietz.

"Absolutely. Absolutely," said Dawn Wershe.

Cathy Volsen believed the Wershes, and Willie Volsen and Jimmy Harris believed Volsen. They collected over $200,000 in bribe money to protect drug shipments. In 1991, they were busted. Volsen, Harris and 10 additional cops went to prison.

The FBI said they could never have done it without Rick Wershe.

Rick Wershe has been locked up for over 30 years for committing two non-violent crimes: possesion of 8 kilos of cocaine in 1987 and participating in a stolen car ring in 

Possession of 8 kilos of cocaine 1987.

The other for participating in a stolen car ring in 2006 while he was in prison.

While Wershe was in a Michigan prison he introduced his sister, Dawn, to a car salesman. It turned into a stolen car ring, and Wershe pleaded guilty to protect his sister and mother from criminal charges.

His scheduled release date is December 2020.

"Shattered: White Boy Rick" includes 20 never before hard interviews, including the FBI agent who worked with white boy rick when he was just 14.

MORE: The Story of White Boy Rick

About the Authors:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.