In the Media
'White Boy Rick' Granted Resentencing
DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) - After spending nearly 30 years in prison as Michigan's longest-serving non-violent criminal, "White Boy Rick" Wershe was granted parole.
According to the Michigan Parole Board, they decided to grant him parole after a public hearing on June 8 at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility.
Now, Wershe can be released as early as mid-August from the Michigan Department of Corrections system.
According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, the parole board unanimously voted to grant him parole.
He was sentenced to serve five years in prison in Florida after begin convicted on racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering charges in 2006.
Florida officials will be informed of his anticipated release and responsible for making arrangements for his transfer to serve the 5-year sentence there.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy released this statement:
"The position of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office is that this is a decision that has been made by the parole board and that we have no further position. We respect and accept the decision of the parole board."
Man charged in deadly Clinton Township shooting
Former Detroit prosecutors, feds suspected Harding knew about attack
DETROIT (WXYZ) - The attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan thrust Detroit into the international spotlight back in 1994. The investigation spanned 4 states, but it all started in Detroit and became one of the biggest controversies in Olympic history.
It became known as the “whack heard ‘round the world” – the vicious assault on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan inside Cobo Arena 24 years ago.
Detroit was hosting the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. At stake: a national title and two spots on the U.S. Olympic Team.
On January 6, 1994, Kerrigan was leaving the ice after practice when a man clubbed her just above the right knee: her landing leg.
The next day, then-Detroit Deputy Police Chief Benny Napoleon got a call from a woman who said at least 4 people were behind the attack. Napoleon alerted the FBI.
“She indicated to me that she had been privy to a conversation regarding a planned assault on Nancy,” said Napoleon at a press conference back in 1994.
With Kerrigan unable to compete, her main rival Tonya Harding took first at Nationals in Detroit.
And suspicion quickly grew that the Portland-based skater was involved in the crime.
“Agents immediately went out and coordinated with Detroit Police,” said retired FBI Special Agent Andy Bartnowak. He returned to the scene of the crime at Cobo with the 7 Investigators to talk about his days working on the Kerrigan attack.
“It was a tremendous effort by law enforcement, who were really under the scrutiny of the constant media frenzy covering this case at the time, both here and in Portland, as well as nationally,” said Bartnowak.
When Harding and her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly returned home to Portland, they could not escape the cameras or law enforcement.
Within days, Gillooly, Harding’s bodyguard Shawn Eckardt, hitman Shane Stant, and getaway driver Derrick Smith were all arrested – accused in the plot to injure Kerrigan. Police said their goal was to guarantee Harding a spot on the Olympic team.
Harding later pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution of the case, but she always maintained she knew nothing of the attack before it happened – until now.
“It was a common belief amongst everyone who worked the case, and everyone who was involved that Tonya Harding absolutely had knowledge. And despite her claims for almost 20 years that she didn’t know beforehand – nobody in law enforcement believed that version,” said Bartnowak.
“I always thought she well knew anyways, myself,” said Douglas Baker. Baker was the Deputy Chief Wayne County Prosecutor at the time. Now he’s the Chief of Criminal Enforcement and Quality of Life with the Detroit Law Department.
Cameras followed Baker’s every move back in 1994 as reporters from around the world waited for charges to come.
AG Advisor Interview on Capture of Mexican Cartel Boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) - He is known as El Chapo. Joaquin Guzman Lira is an infamous criminal now captured. His drug empire stretches from Mexico to the Motor City.
Earlier today at a press conference Detroit Police Chief James Craig acknowledged the war on drugs saying "The network is just not these small time unorganized cowardly predators in Detroit."
Retired FBI Supervisor Andy Bartnowak says news of the arrest traveled fast and "This is something that should be celebrated and people should congratulate themselves over."
For years Bartnowak ran the gang and drug squad at the FBI Detroit Field Office. He says El Chapo and his associates are responsible for millions of dollars in drugs being shipped here to Detroit. He says in addition "The drive by shootings and violence that occurs here is because you have rival factions trying to control that particular drug trade. Marijuana, cocaine, meth, and heroine as well."
Guzman Lira was arrested at a Mexican Resort Hotel on Sat. Intel from ICE and DEA helped bring him down. As Former Chief of the Detroit Police Department, Warren Evans also knows the value of good info. He fought to keep guns and drugs off the streets for years. "What we tried to do was go after mid and upper level dealers" says Evans.
With four hours separating Detroit and Chicago where El Chapo had a stranglehold, there could now be a window of opportunity. Evans says "It will upset supply and when it does there, it will also upset supply here. The best time time for law enforcement to do anything is when the people they are looking for aren't on their game."
But the 56-year-old kingpin is resourceful and filthy rich. 701 on Forbes list of wealthy billionaires. Look for the U.S. to push for extradition for the man who bribed his way out of prison 13 years ago. "As long as he has the resources he has and there are vulnerable people in those jails it's a big issue and you're silly if you don't believe that" says Evans.
FBI Case Leads to Guilty Verdict for Six Members of 'Devils Diciples' Motorcycle Club
DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) - The Detroit branch of the FBI has brought down a violent motorcycle club known as the "Devil's Diciples." In total, six members were found guilty on multiple charges, including RICO.
Among those convicted,are President Jeff "Fat Dog" Smith of Mt. Clemens and Vice President Paul "Pauli" Darrah of Macomb Twp. Both men were charged with RICO conspiracy, illegal gambling and witness tampering.
Former FBI Supervisor Andy Bartnowak closely monitored the case for many years.
"This was like a corporate structure with various roles that made it extremely well organized" Bartnowak said. "They were a violent gang who's reach stretched across the country and they also intimated witnesses."
Federal officials say for years, the club sold stolen bikes, ran gambling houses, committed violence and trafficked drugs.
Now, the community is safer in Clinton Township near their headquarters and across the country. Sentencing is scheduled to take place in four months.
Judge says "White Boy Rick" entitled to new sentencing
DETROIT (WXYZ) - A release from prison might be in the works for a former teenage drug dealer known throughout Detroit as "White Boy Rick."
He's been locked up for almost 30 years on a non-violent crime.
In today's hearing for White Boy Rick, a judge said he is entitled to be resentenced. His sentencing date is scheduled for September 18 at 9 a.m.
Richard Wershe has been rejected for parole three different times.
After 28 years in prison, he is hoping for a miracle.
The one-time teenage drug dealer and FBI informant was locked up after a single conviction for cocaine possession back in May of 1987.
White Boy Rick was just 17 years old back then and is currently the longest serving prisoner in the state of Michigan for a non-violent crime.
High profile defense attorney David Griem once worked as a federal prosecutor on drug cases.
He tells 7 Action News that political reasons could keep a judge from releasing the now 46-year-old Wershe - even though the law that put Wershe behind bars is no longer on the books.
A groundswell of community support has helped white boy rick get more recent attention for his case. But prosecutor Kym Worthy has publicly voiced opposition to his release.
Former FBI supervisor Andy Bartnowak has worked on cases where White Boy Rick helped provide information and says there's really no benefit to keep him in prison.