White Boy Rick True Story Explained: Where Is Richard Wershe Jr. Now? (2024)


  • Richard Wershe Sr. was not involved in his son's drug dealing, rather he was an FBI informant himself.
  • "White Boy Rick" was a media creation, not a street name for the young dealer.
  • Richard Wershe Jr. became a notorious drug dealer as a teenager, and was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 at 17 years old. He was released in 2020.

White Boy Rick is a 2018 crime drama that tells the real story of Richard "Ricky" Wershe Jr. and while some of the facts are altered for dramatic effect, much of the incredible story is true to history. White Boy Rick is a movie based on the unbelievable true story of Richard Wershe Jr. who, at age 14, became the youngest FBI informant ever. His story, from helping his father run illegal gun rings to becoming one of the biggest dealers in Detroit, is one almost too outrageous,and too unfair to be believed.

Matthew McConaughey stars in this movie as Richard "Rick" Wershe Sr. and his son is played by Richie Merra, who appeared in two episodes of Euphoria as Bruce Jr. White Boy Rick begins in 1984, at the height of the crack epidemic in the United States and sees Ricky Jr. transform from a young boy trying to help his dad into an enterprising and successful drug dealer. White Boy Rick is never going to make a list of the most accurate movies based on real events, but there are still parts that ring true to the actual story.


10 Most Inaccurate 'True Story' Movies That Completely Stretched The Truth

Hollywood has long used the classic 'based on a true story' slogan to attract viewers to theaters, but these ten films took far too many liberties.

Richard Wershe Sr. Got His Son Into The Drug Game

The FBI Initially Approached The Father For Help

The most glaring change from reality in White Boy Rick is its portrayal of Rick Sr. In the film, Ricky helps his father with his gun smuggling business. When the FBI gets wise, they're in touch with Ricky and tell him if he becomes an informant, they will not press charges against Rick Sr., all unbeknownst to Rick Sr., who has no idea where his son's sudden wealth is coming from. That could not be further from the truth, because, in reality, the FBI contacted Rick Sr. for help as an informant. In fact, they had a long-standing relationship (via Atavist).

Since the FBI was mostly concerned with drug rings in Detroit after teaming up with the DEA, a small-timer like Rick who resold guns was not on their radar. They even helped each other out, with the FBI letting Rick know when they had seen his daughter Dawn, who had become addicted to drugs, getting into trouble. The agents went to their old pal hoping he would be able to identify some key figures in the drug rings who lived in the neighborhood. He couldn't, but Ricky could, having gone on most of his father's gun sale trips.

The FBI asked Rick if his son could be an informant and when a cash amount was offered, the decision was easy for the senior Wershe. He told writer Evan Hughes in Atavist,

"I took the money. I wasn’t doing all that well at the time. And I thought it was the right thing—keep some drug dealers off the street and get paid for it."

Now, there was a reason Ricky was so adept at spotting who these drug ring leaders were. He was not a completely innocent kid, and by the time he was 14, Ricky was buddying up with Rudell "Boo" Curry (RJ Cyler) and Johnny "Lil Man" Curry's (Jonathan Majors) crew and younger family members, learning how to commit burglaries. Boo and Lil Man were part of a family of drug dealers and one of the top outfits in the city, and Richard Wershe Jr. had an inside track. The young man seemed happy to help the FBI as he told Hughes,

"What kid doesn’t want to be an undercover cop when he’s 14, 15 years old?"

The Press Gave Richard Wershe Jr. The Name "White Boy Rick"

"White Boy Rick" Was Not A Street Name

White Boy Rick True Story Explained: Where Is Richard Wershe Jr. Now? (2)

While the name "White Boy Rick" may sound like a moniker earned from working on the street, or at least a name given to him by the FBI, it was actually a creation of the press (via Detroit Free Press). The name stuck, and it does make for an excellent movie title.

Richard Wershe Jr. Uncovered A Detroit Police Scandal

The FBI Sumbled Upon A Citywide Cover-up Thanks To Ricky

White Boy Rick True Story Explained: Where Is Richard Wershe Jr. Now? (3)

What no one expected to happen was for Richard Wershe Jr. to inadvertently uncover a Detroit police scandal, one of the biggest corruption scandals in history (via the New York Times). Ricky heard from some other dealers that they had shot and killed a 13-year-old boy over a drug dispute, and he took this information to his FBI handlers. The FBI realized that the Detroit police had been covering up crimes involving the Curry brothers, as Johnny Curry was engaged to the mayor's niece, Cathy Volsan. They were deliberately obfuscating evidence surrounding the brothers.

Understanding they had a major corruption scandal on their hands but to press charges, the FBI would need to admit they had been illegally using an undercover minor all this time. So, they dropped Ricky. Living most of his young life under the watchful protection of the FBI, Ricky was now alone with no skills except the ones he had learned from the FBI, that is, how to sell drugs in order to get close to the gangs.

Attempts Were Made On Richard Wershe Jr.’s Life

Ricky Survived At Least One Shooting

White Boy Rick True Story Explained: Where Is Richard Wershe Jr. Now? (4)

When news started to filter out about White Boy Rick, the young dealer suddenly had a target on his back. Ricky told CNN a story about being called to a house after the FBI let him go. He was in the basem*nt of the house when an associate of his called him up. Ricky was greeted by a .357 Magnum bullet which tore a hole through his large intestines. Ricky said about the shooting,

"No words were said. All I remember is waking up at the bottom of the stairs in this agonizing pain, and I was 15 years old. I thought I was going to die."

Miraculously, the shooter's girlfriend arrived and called the paramedics in a panic. The ambulance pulled up just as the shooter was moving Ricky to his car; to what end, Ricky still does not know. Richard Wershe Jr. also had the Detroit police after him as well. Nate Boone Craft, a former Detroit hitman for hire, claimed to Click On Detroit that a Detroit police officer offered him a significant amount of money to kill Ricky. Craft said,

"I was told to kill White Boy Rick. He [the police officer] said, '125,000, I'll make sure you get it as long as that boy is dead.' His key word, 'Dead.' (He said) 125 (thousand), make sure that boy is dead. We can't have him talking exact words. We can't have him talking."

Though there is no way to corroborate Craft's story, Ricky would have been a major thorn in the city police's side, and there were most likely many officers who would have benefited from seeing him dead.

Richard Wershe Jr. Sold Drugs And Went To Jail

Eventually, The FBI Stopped Helping Ricky

White Boy Rick True Story Explained: Where Is Richard Wershe Jr. Now? (5)

Facing threats from the police and the street, and with no FBI to help him, Ricky became a drug dealer out of necessity. He quickly rose up the ranks to be one of the most successful in the city, all before he turned 18. Ricky had a white mink coat, a Rolex, and Johnny Curry's territory since Ricky sent him to jail. He even started dating Johnny's girlfriend, Cathy Volsan (via All That's Interesting). The brief good times did not last, however, and the Detroit Police broke into his home to discover 18 pounds of cocaine in his possession.

There was very little sympathy for the boy during the trial, with the judge even saying that Ricky was (via The New Yorker),

"...worse than a mass murderer."

Under Michigan’s 650-Lifer Law, Richard Wershe Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for having more than 650 grams of cocaine, with no chance of parole, in 1987 at the age of 17. However, in 1998, Michigan revised its 650-Lifer Law, and Ricky was eligible for parole beginning in 2003. It would not be until 2017, 30 years later, that he was released, but even then, US Marshalls took him back to a Florida State Prison for three more years to serve the remainder of a sentence for a car theft ring he was involved with.

Where Is The Real White Boy Rick, AKA Richard Wershe Jr., Now?

Ricky Is Finally Out Of Jail And Moving Forward

White Boy Rick True Story Explained: Where Is Richard Wershe Jr. Now? (6)

Richard Wershe Jr. was released from prison on July 20, 2020, a fact that wasn't revealed in the end credits of White Boy Rick, as the film came out two years earlier in 2018. Ricky is now an activist for non-violent offenders serving time for drug-related charges (via SlashFilm). He has also started his own brand of cannabis called The 8th, named for the Eighth Amendment, which protects Americans against cruel and unusual punishments.

White Boy Rick




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Yann Demange

Release Date
September 14, 2018
Matthew McConaughey , Richie Merritt , Bel Powley , Jennifer Jason Leigh , Brian Tyree Henry , Rory Cochrane

110 minutes
White Boy Rick True Story Explained: Where Is Richard Wershe Jr. Now? (2024)
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