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Tag: Detroit

Detroit U.S. Attorney’s Office Takes Time Out to Celebrate Its 200th Anniversary

l-r from the top: Ross Parker; Judge Gerald Rosen; The crowd; U.S. Attorney McQuade

l-r From the top: Ross Parker; Judge Gerald Rosen; The crowd; U.S. Attorney McQuade

By Allan Lengel

DETROIT —  Federal court, more often than not, is a pretty serious place.

But on Wednesday, judges, prosecutors, attorneys, courthouse staff and members of the media gathered on the first floor of the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Detroit to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The crowd included some former U.S. Attorneys: Saul Green and Jeff Collins and Judges Terrence Berg and Stephen Murphy. Some of the federal judges included chief Judge Gerald Rosen, Judge Paul Borman and Judge Bernard Friedman.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade delivered some remarks, calling the U.S. Attorney’s Office the best law firm in the state. Ross Parker, a former chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and a columnist for, gave a talk about the history of the office.

Parker is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office e in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008.″

The “Dirty Politics” Behind the Imprisonment of Richard “White Boy Rick” Wershe Jr.

This Michigan Department of Corrections record shows his earliest  and latest release dates as never at the bottom right.

. Vince Wade is a former investigative reporter for WXYZ and Fox 2. He now lives in California and runs Informant America, described as ” a blog about the shadowy world of law enforcement informants with particular focus on . . . Richard Wershe, Jr.” This investigative story is republished with permission. It is part of an ongoing series on Wershe.

By Vince Wade

The story of Richard “White Boy Rick” Wershe, Jr. is an epic tale, sprawling and complex. It is a challenge to keep the story straight because there are so many players, so many events. It is a challenge to tell you about it.

It is much more than a story about a white teenage dope dealer in the black underworld. It is every bit as much a tale about police criminality, political corruption and what appears to be a decades-long vendetta, a dark and chilling conspiracy within the criminal justice system against a teenager who dared to help the FBI put politically-connected dope dealers and corrupt cops in jail.

It appears to be an organized violation of one man’s civil rights over his entire adult life. There are dozens of important events and hundreds of characters in this story.

Two key episodes were Wershe’s 1988 drug trial and his 2003 parole hearing. This lengthy blog post touches on both. Those bothered by how long it takes to read this should remember Rick Wershe has lived with all of this every day, 24/7, in an 8 X 12 prison cell for the past 27 years.

Featured_screen_shot_2015-09-11_at_10.39.42_pm_18471Ricahrd Wershe Jr. in court Sept. 4

A fierce, fast-moving battle of legal briefs is now being fought in the Michigan Court of Appeals over the re-sentencing of Richard J. Wershe, Jr. who is serving a life prison term for dealing drugs. Hitman murderers, serial rapists and habitual child molesters have been let out of prison by the Michigan Parole Board during the nearly three decades Rick Wershe has been kept behind bars. Others convicted of selling far more dope than Wershe ever saw in his life have been in and out  of Michigan prisons during his time behind bars.

Many Detroit news organizations have been wrong in their reporting dating back to when Wershe was convicted. Last Friday, for instance, two Detroit TV stations reported a Court of Appeals-ordered postponement of Wershe’s re-sentencing was a setback for Wershe. That is wrong. All parties agreed to the delay and Wershe’s defense team breathed a sigh of relief that the fast-moving court battle had slowed to give them time to hone their legal briefs.

The entire basis for demanding that Wershe remain in prison is the claim that his drug crimes were so vast, so deadly, that he poses a menace to society. If that claim can be shown to be false, there is no evidentiary basis, no factual basis for keeping Wershe in prison one more day.

Mike Duggan’s Letter

There are thousands of pages of documents related to Richard J. Wershe Jr., also known as White Boy Rick, in the files of law enforcement and the criminal justice system. The most damning by far is a letter from former Wayne County, Michigan prosecutor Mike Duggan to the Michigan Parole Board. Duggan is now the Mayor of the City of Detroit. In that letter Duggan urges the Parole Board to keep Wershe in prison until he dies. The Feb. 17, 2003 letter is dated several weeks ahead of Wershe’s one and only parole hearing since he was sentenced to mandatory life in 1988 for possession of eight kilos of cocaine.

The law was later changed to life with the possibility of parole.

Featured_whiteboyrick_8100Richard Wershe as a teen and now.

The three-page letter purportedly written by Duggan contains serious allegations in stunningly harsh language about the crimes and misdeeds of Richard J. Wershe, Jr. The use of the word “purportedly” will be clear later in this article.

In Michigan politics and in its courts, the name Mike Duggan has marquee value. He made a name for himself as the number two man to Ed McNamara, the late Wayne County Executive. McNamara was an old-school machine politics boss and he taught Duggan how to use the levers of power.

Read more »

American-Arab Advocate: More Transparency Needed Over FBI Spy Planes

fbi-logBy Fatina Abdrarraboh
for Detroit News

Earlier this month, The Detroit News reported about a series of missions by an FBI spy plane over Dearborn. The plane, which is outfitted with a night vision camera and listening device equipment, flew over a portion of Dearborn and Melvindale for multiple nights. Melvindale has a growing Arab-American population. The section of Dearborn that was flown over have two mosques around the flight pattern of this particular spy plane.

The FBI claims that the flights over this area were not for surveilling the community and are routinely used to track drug dealers and violent extremists. In a statement, FBI Special Agent in Charge of Metro Detroit Paul Abbate stated, “The FBI does not employ aviation assets to conduct mass surveillance, nor to target specific communities…Further, the FBI Detroit Field Office is not aware of any specific or credible threats within the local Detroit Metropolitan Area.”

Given a lack of transparency regarding what spy planes are really doing, as well as the FBI’s track record locally, a number of questions remain unanswered.

Since the FBI stated there were no specific or credible threats, why were they flying over one particular area for multiple nights? Given that the FBI has used the problematic practice of sending informants into mosques, are they also able to take pictures of cars in one location, like in a mosque parking lot? When using their listening equipment on the spy plane, are they listening and capturing private cell phone conversations?

In recent years, the ACLU uncovered a 2009 FBI memorandum stating that Dearborn was on their radar “because Michigan has a large Middle Eastern and Muslim population, it is prime territory for attempted radicalization and recruitment by terrorist groups.” There is no evidence to suggest that this mapping has ceased, even though there is not a single conviction involving a local Muslim going abroad to join an extremist group in the past decade from the community’s approximately 300,000 people.

Our respective organizations’ constituents, Metro Detroit, and indeed the country have much at stake in the pursuit to ensure individual rights and liberties are protected. We appreciate The Detroit News’ reporting, which provoked questions about the spy plane as well as similar issues prior to this. Investigative reporting is what differentiates open and democratic societies from totalitarian ones. It is media which helps to keep the nation’s citizenry informed in order that we can be more aware when holding our government accountable.

To read more click here. 

Fatina Abdrarraboh is director of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee – Michigan.


ICE Agent Fatally Shoots Detroit Man

By Allan Lengel

DETROIT — A federal law enforcement agent shot and killed a man Monday on Detroit’s northwest side , WWJ reports.

WWJ reports that the agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), was part of a joint federal task force that was serving an armed robbery warrant in the 9500 block of Evergreen near W. Chicago around 1 p.m.

WWJ reports that Detroit  Police Chief James Craig said the ICE agent, who  shot the man, about 20, was “responding to a threat.” He did not immediately elaborate. It was unclear if the man was armed.

WWJ’s Russ McNamara reported  that Craig was “trying to calm” neighbors at the scene who were demanding answers. Craig promised a thorough investigation.

“Let us do our job. We’ll do it as quick as we can. I don’t want this to be a two, three-month (investigation),” Craig said.



FBI: 2 Detroit Cops Accused of Stealing from Drug Dealers, Dispensaries

By Steve Neavling

DETROIT –– Two Detroit cops are accused of stealing drugs, money and property during warrantless raids and bogus arrests during a four-year crime spree that ended with their suspension and the disbandment of the city’s narcotics unit.

The indictment, which was unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court, alleges that Lt. David Hansberry and Officer Bryan Watson targeted drug dealers and marijuana dispensaries, intimidating them and stealing their drugs, money and other possessions.

Also under investigation was Detective James Napier, 35, who fatally shot himself in front of his parent’s home in January.

According to the feds, the cops would “identify themselves as law enforcement officers performing official law enforcement duties in order to coerce their victims into complying with their demands and to encourage their victims to flee, leaving behind their controlled substances, money or personal property.”

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said today that the allegations shouldn’t reflect poorly on the many hard-working officers who bravely and honorably perform their duties.

“The vast majority of the men and women of the Detroit Police Department are honest and hard-working, but these defendants betrayed their oath and their fellow officers,” Craig said. “We are committed to the highest standards of integrity, and we will remove any officers who do not live up to those high standards.”

The FBI handled the investigation.

FBI Arrests Louisville Man Accused of Threatening to Blow Up Building

By Steve Neavling

A Louisville man is accused of threatening to blow up an unidentified building and has been arrested, the FBI announced.

Agents arrested Robert Paul Cardwell, 30, while working with the FBI’s Detroit Division.

The FBI released the following statement:

SAC Howard S. Marshall announced today the arrest of Robert Paul Cardwell on Tuesday April 7, 2015 by FBI Agents in Louisville, KY without incident. The arrest was made in coordination with the Detroit Division of the FBI. Cardwell is charged with 18 U.S.C. 844(e), Threatening to Maliciously Destroy Building by Explosive Device.

Investigators declined to release more information or discuss the nature of the alleged bomb threat.

Ex-Detroit Mob Boss Tony Zerilli, Who Triggered FBI Dig for Hoffa, Is Dead at 87

Tony Zerilli/ from WDIV video

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit
DETROIT — The former acting boss of the Detroit mob, Anthony (Tony Z) Zerilli, who triggered a massive FBI dig in northern Oakland County in 2013 in search of James R. Hoffa, died several days ago of natural causes in the Ft. Lauderdale area. He was 87.

Scott Burnstein, a local mob expert, who runs the website, Gangster Report, wrote that Zerilli was the last of the upper-echelon old guard in the Detroit mafia. He was an underboss and acting boss and son of the local Godfather Joseph (Joe Uno) Zerilli. He was also the son-in-law of the New York don Joe Profaci.

Less than a decade ago, he was stripped of his duties as the syndicate’s No. 2 in charge, Gangster Report reported.

After being out of the spotlight for quite a long time, Zerilli surfaced as a very public figure in January 2013 when he told NBC 4 New York reporter Marc Santia, formerly of WDIV  that Hoffa was buried in northern Oakland County, but he had nothing to do with the 1975 disappearance. At the time of the Hoffa disappearance, that property belonged to another top-ranking mobster.

The statements put the FBI in a bind. Embarrassed before in its never-ending hunt for Hoffa, the agency would have preferred to avoid another failed dig, and the accompanying skepticisim and wisecracks from the public. On the other hand, it was hard for the agency to ignore Zerilli’s claims considered he was a guy who was once high up the chain, who could have had some knowledge.

So, in June 2013, the FBI started digging up a property in Oakland Township, but came up empty after more than two days and called it quits. Few were surprised.

Several months before the dig,  Zerilli told the New York reporter that the mob intended to move Hoffa’s body to a hunting lodge in Rogers City at the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula, but never did. He gives no names, saying he’s not a snitch.

At the time, the NBC 4 correspondent Santia says Zerilli, who was hurting for money, came forward in hopes of profiting from publicity and showing he had nothing to do with Hoffa’s abrupt disappearance outside a Bloomfield Township restaurant on July 30, 1975. He has a website to promote a book in the making.

“Finally, a book will soon be published with all of the facts surrounding the Hoffa disappearance,” his website said, adding: “Many have long speculated that Anthony J. Zerilli was the ‘boss’ of the Detroit Mafia, and that he ordered the killing of Jimmy Hoffa. This is absolutely untrue.”


Wounded Fed Judge Remains Example of Being Positive About Detroit

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit
DETROIT — U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg could be a spokesman for having a good attitude about Detroit despite being the victim of a shooting outside his home in city’s University District earlier this month during an attempted robbery.

“Overall, I have such a positive feeling about Detroit and where we live,” he told Steve Garagiola of WDIV.

Berg, 55, who was shot in the leg, and is moving about on crutches,plans to join a march on Friday at  6 p.m. the Gesu Catholic Church a 117180 Oak Dr, Detroit.

He said march will be about being positive about Detroit and speaking out against violence.

He was shot March 5 outside his home after he refused to let two robbers into his home where his wife and child were.

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