A major Detroit-area drug trafficker known as "White Boy Rick" who has spent nearly 30 years in prison could soon be released after a judge ordered a resentencing today. Richard Wershe Jr., 46, deserves a new sentence because he was sentenced at the age of 18 under old law and the justice system now treats juveniles constitutionally different than adults, Wayne County Circuit Judge Dana Hathaway ruled. She scheduled the resentencing for Sept. 18 over the objections of Wayne County prosecutors, who say they plan to appeal because they believe his sentence is lawful and his rights-violations claims were rejected on a previous appeal. Defense attorney Ralph Musilli said his client conceivably could be released immediately after that hearing, given the time he has served.
"He has done his time," his mother, Darlene McCormick, said after the hearing. "He's been very good and he needs to get out, spend time with his family," which includes a 27-year-old son born shortly after his father was imprisoned. At the time Wershe was arrested in 1987, authorities described him as being at the top echelons of trafficking. One judge said at a 1987 hearing that "he's worse than a mass murderer." Hathaway said she's not ruling that Wershe's sentence (a life sentence with parole) is unconstitutional. Rather, Wershe is "entitled to be resentenced with consideration given to his youth and the circumstances surrounding the crime." Wershe, who is being held in a state prison in northern Michigan, has helped the FBI investigate drugs and police corruption. (Read more drug dealing stories.)