Posted on: February 27, 2012 4:26 pm

Former PSU player arrested for drug/gun ring

By Matt Norlander

You may not recall former Penn State forward and co-captain Gyasi Cline-Heard. He was a senior who averaged 16 points per game for the Nittany Lions team that reached the Sweet 16 in 2001, the last time Penn State went so deep in the NCAAs. Cline-Heard went on to play for nearly a decade overseas, in places such as Belgium and South Korea. 

Now he sits in Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, Fla., after being arrested earlier this month on charges of running a drug ring. And a gun ring. Cline-Heard was not a henchman. He was straight up the Marlo Stanfield of a greater Tampa organized crime outfit. Dozens, if not more, illegal firearms were found taking up space in his home in New Port Richey on Feb. 10 when police busted through and confiscated a mini army's worth of weaponry in what I'm assuming looked like a scene straight out of "Lord of War."

From Erin Sullivan the Tampa Bay Times:
On Feb. 10, Cline-Heard, 32, was arrested on charges he was the leader of a drug and gun ring in Pasco and Pinellas. He and a 25-year-old woman, Jessica Colon, were picked up during a raid at her house in Tarpon Springs. Cline-Heard's tattoo shop in Palm Harbor, Legacy Tattoo, was also raided, along with his house in Trinity. Two other people were arrested at a New Port Richey home as part of the round-up.

Four dozen guns were found during the raids. The enormity of the stockpile of weapons — most of them assault rifles and machine guns with rounds that could easily penetrate officer's vests and cruisers — shocked investigators. Lt. Chuck Balderstone of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office picked up one firearm with a long silencer at a news conference announcing the bust.

"That's something you would see in a spy movie," he said.

This bust came to be after undercover "vice agents" actually bought well more than a pound cocaine and a .380-caliber handgun from Cline-Heard, according to Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco. Cline-Heard was believed to be selling the guns and bullets, weapons so formidable they could easily rip through protective vesting. It was militia-esque in its grandiosity.

"These people were pretty bad members of our society," Nocco was quoted in the Times' story.

Cline-Heard, the son of former NBA player and coach Gar Heard, divorced from his wife in November, according to the story, and he has a 1-year-old daughter.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:09 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 4:22 pm

Greenberg checks in from locked-down Va. Tech

By Jeff Goodman

Virginia Tech Seth Greenberg sat at his desk on Thursday afternoon, in the midst of a campus-side lockdown after a gunman shot and killed two people - including a campus police officer.

"It's sad. This is a peaceful, quiet, serene community," Greenberg told CBSSports.com. "This is not reflective of the environment here at all." "We're seeing that there are deranged people in any environment," he added.

Authorities continued to search for the gunman, who killed the police officer on campus during a traffic stop. Greenberg sounded in shock after the second major tragedy that has taken police on the Blacksburg campus in four years. In April of 2007, 33 people were killed by a gunman.

Greenberg said he and his staff have been in constant communication with his players and their families. He also said that one of his daughters, Ella, a cheerleader at the school, was locked down next door at the Coliseum.

"I can't even get to her," Greenberg said. "I've been texting with her consistently and I know she's alright."

"This place is all about community," he added. "It's the greatest sense of community and university of anywhere I've ever been. ... It's just so sad."

Final exams have been postponed. Greenberg's team defeated Rhode Island on Wednesday night and wasn't scheduled to practice today.

Photo: AP

Posted on: December 5, 2011 6:12 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:23 am

Why did Bernie Fine have nine cellphones?

By Matt Norlander

There is plenty of flying shrapnel humming around the Syracuse/Bernie Fine case. Monday, the public was made privy to the items that federal authorities recently seized at Bernie Fine's house and workplace.

It's what you'd expect. All of his at-home electronics, including a raid on his Manley Field House office, too. But it's not what the authorities took the possessions, it's that Fine -- who still has not been charged with any crime and has denied all accusations -- reportedly was in possession of nine cellphones.

That's a detail that could potentially lead to serious collateral damage for Syracuse's basketball program down the road.

Even for a college coach, nine phones staggering number (still high if you want to assume five of those phones he no longer uses/are outdated). Plenty of cynics will greet this with mock applause, as assistants have been known to use extra phones as if they were a regular on "The Wire." For all the issues and problems Bernie Fine had in his life, there's really no plausible reason for him to explain having that many phones attached to his name.

We here at the blog mock Borzello for grotesquely having three.

There are plenty of issues bigger to this case than whether or not Fine was hardcore in helping Syracuse cheat. All of the sexual molestation allegations come in novel-weighted pages before we get to any NCAA impropriety, and I'm not saying that such impropriety is definitely even there. I'm saying Fine had nine cellphones and he was an assistant coach at a major D-I college basketball power.

Also, Fine was long off the recruiting trail, too. He wasn't he one working on landing the better Orange prospects in the past decade-plus. From a basketball standpoint, it doesn't make sense that he'd have that many cells to begin with. Those close to the program know Fine wasn't a cog in the recruiting machine at SU anymore.

Still, the question I can't get out of my head: Why so many phones, Bernie? (At the same time, I'm not in the mood to dip down into that dark territory right now.)

From the Post-Standard, here's an excerpt of what police were looking for and confiscated. (Note: Authorities couldn't care less, and it's out of their jurisdiction, if they ever came across information that showed illegal NCAA activity)
Two safety deposit boxes rented by Fine were also searched at local banks, according to the inventories from the execution of four search warrants. Seven letters were seized from one safe deposit box.

Authorities led by the U.S. Secret Service and Syracuse police searched Fine's house in DeWitt Nov. 25 and Fine's SU office Nov. 29. Records show the agents were looking for pornographic material and records relating to any association with boys, past or present, and any records of boys living in Fine's home. The agents also sought all records of interstate or foreign travel, such as records of air travel and hotels.

From Fine's home ... the Secret Service seized nine cell phones, three iPads, two laptop computers and one desktop computer, the documents show. They seized six still or video cameras, 16 VHS tapes and nearly 150 CD's or DVD's, the records show. The agents also seized a bag of negatives, seven safe deposit box keys, file cabinets, two boxes of documents and two boxes of checks from the home, the records show.

From Fine's office at SU's office ... the agents seized a laptop computer, a desktop computer, 135 CDs, 217 VHS tapes, and a box of documents and photos, the records show.

The irony of this is, the NCAA recently rejiggered its bylaws in regard to cellphone usage. It finally let go of so many strict, stale rules with phones, including text-messaging and Facebook/Twitter-related activity. But Fine had these phones before those rules were alleviated. It's a ways down the road, and the NCAA is acquiescing everything (rightfully) to to authorities right now, so this is just a side note to this mammoth case that's got 20 times as many questions as answers right now.

The potential victims remain the center of this case, but from a basketball and athletics perspective, Syracuse is by no means in the clear. Fine could ruin his school's name even more if one clue leads to another, and suddenly he's caught red-handed in cheating. This could come back to Jim Boeheim once again, too.

Sometime in the future, the NCAA may want to or be able to look into the records and see just who was getting called from all of Fine's phones.  The irony: AAU coaches and runners could end up being the best of the bunch, the stuff we'd all prefer to see, if anything wrong is on the phone records at all.


More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: December 2, 2011 10:04 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 10:05 pm

Jim Boeheim's new tone and full apology

By Matt Norlander

An emotional — but not quite on the verge of tears — Jim Boeheim had his latest chance to react to the allegations against former Syracuse assistant Bernie Fine after undefeated Syracuse’s 72-68 win against Florida Friday night.

I’ve got a column coming on it, but here’s Boeheim’s somewhat scripted/still off-the-cuff statement/reaction quote in full. Boeheim said he was not advised on what to say, or whether to say anything at all. This was Boeheim's response after first giving a general reaction to the game.

“There are two topics I’m going to address tonight and I will talk professional bout the team and the game and what happened, and then I’m going to address something that’s personal to me. … I’m going to limit what I’m going to talk about, because of this ongoing investigation. But I want to make three comments. …

"I have talked to some people today and yesterday about what i was going to say, and these are my thoughts. I’m not good enough to put them down on paper. I just am not. No one said, ‘This is what you should say.’ No one indicated that I had to say something. This is what I feel, and I have to make three comments, and the first one is, I believe I misspoke very badly in my response to the allegations that have been made.

"I shouldn’t have questioned what the accusers expressed or their motives. I am really sorry that I did that and I regret any harm that I caused. It was insensitive to the individuals involved, and especially to the overall issue of child abuse. I spent yesterday afternoon at McMahon/Ryan House (a child advocacy center) talking to people, the director and some other people there, and although I have been involved with them, in terms of raising money, I think it’s important that we, and I, get involved more in terms of raising awareness. (Pause) What I said last week was out of loyalty. I reacted without thinking. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I’m trying to learn from my mistake, and this has been a hard time. That’s all I can say. There’s an investigation going on that I fully support, because we all need to know, as much as we can, what happened.”


Posted on: November 29, 2011 12:32 pm

Former PD Chief/Syracuse player had info on Fine

By Matt Norlander

CBSSports.com Syracuse Rapid Reporter Thomas Casale checks in from the Salt City with the following:

"Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said former chief Dennis DuVal knew about sexual abuse allegations against Bernie Fine back in [May or June] 2002.

'The Syracuse Police chief at that time, Dennis DuVal, was made aware of the allegations against Bernie Fine. Due to the fact that no investigation was started, detectives didn’t prepare any formal reports.'"

Yeah, that's huge. And possibly very, very corrupt. What makes it so frustrating -- and seemingly wrong -- is DuVal played at Syracuse from 1972 to 1974. It looks like he may have protected Fine by way of inaction.

The Post-Standard has also been on this story, and been doing great work every day since it broke, and it has more.
DuVal, who played for SU from 1972 to 1974, refused to answer any questions Monday when contacted by a Post-Standard reporter. He wouldn’t say whether he was aware of the accusations in 2002, nor whether he’d talked to any law enforcement offcials in the past two weeks, when Davis’ allegations became public. When he reached by phone Monday, DuVal said, "I’m not going to talk to you about it. I hope you respect that. It’s been a long time. I’m not going to get into a discussion about that. Not gonna happen."
No denial, just cowering. Not a good look for him, for Fine, for the Syracuse City Police that was run under him earlier last decade. It should be noted: DuVal left the program two years before Fine officially became an assistant under Jim Boeheim. DuVal retired from the SUPD in 2004.

The Onondaga County District Attorney's Office is currently looking into any past history with this case and what was reported to police -- even if that information didn't go beyond that. This is a relatively large, new piece of information that Fowler is coming forth with.

"[Detective Doug] Fox notified his supervisor in the Abused Persons Unit and it was decided that unless the victim met with the detective or the victim was able to provide names of other victims, then an investigation would not be initiated," Fowler said in his statement. "The Syracuse Police chief at that time, Dennis DuVal, was made aware of the allegations against Bernie Fine. Due to the fact that no investigation was started, Det. Fox did not prepare any formal reports."

There are more details that Fowler came forth with, and again, the Post-Standard lays them out for you, including the anecdote that Davis did not tell Det. Fox that it was Fine who abused him. The story has a lot of gray area, still, in terms of who knew what when and how up front everyone was with the information. It's beginning to look like this case will never be able to get tied down in each area where questions remain.

Photo via Post-Standard
Posted on: November 27, 2011 10:00 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 10:08 pm

Video: Fine's third accuser

By Matt Norlander

Another revealing television interview has surfaced in the Bernie Fine case. Zach Thomaselli, 23, became publicly known Sunday morning. He is now considered the third accuser against Fine. Thomaselli was interviewed on camera Sunday by Sarah Delage, a reporter with NBC affiliate WCSH, in Lewiston, Maine.

In the video report below, Thomaselli recalls when he was allegedly sexually molested by Fine nearly a decade ago, and how it's led to him having an inappropriate relationship with younger people (Thomaselli has been charged with molesting a 14-year-old boy). He also claims his father sexually molested him before Fine ever did -- and that's why he didn't stop Fine when the coach allegedly made his advances on him.

Thomaselli's father, Fred, is interviewed by phone in the video and he denies his son's claims -- both that he sexually abused him, and that Fine did.

This story and case is quickly becoming as convoluted as the drama that spooled out at Penn State less than a month ago. Sunday night, less than 12 hours after Thomaselli's claims became public, Bernie Fine was fired by Syracuse.

Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:35 am

Attempted-murder charge for Parrom's shooter

By Matt Norlander

Arizona's Kevin Parrom is alive, but as far as the state of New York is concerned, that fact is to the chagrin of Jason Gonzalez.

The Arizona Daily Star reports Gonzalez has been formally charged with attempted murder, in addition to nine other offenses, in the wake of firing at gun at Parrom, which ended with bullets in Parrom's right knee and left hand. Parrom is recovering and in relative good health, but his return to Arizona's team this year remains uncertain.

From the Daily Star:

Gonzalez, 19, was arraigned Sunday and faces a pretrial hearing on Wednesday in Bronx Supreme Court. His bail was set at $25,000 and he is being detained at Vernon C. Bain Center in Bronx. He has pleaded not guilty.

New York Police had said Sunday that Gonzalez was arrested on suspicion of  assault, burglary and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the Sept. 24 incident. But the complaint issued Oct. 1 listed attempted murder as well as three charges of assault, two of burglary, two of trespass, as well as charges of harassment and being menacing in the second degree.

As we reported before, the dispute/fight/shooting between Gonzalez and Parrom was over a woman. All things considered, including Parrom's quotes in the report, he's lucky to be alive. Gonzalez and a buddy stormed in on Parrom.

It's very possible things could have gone much worse. But he made it out alive, and he continues to rehab with the team in Tucson. Arizona has been veiled on the true state of Parrom's injuries -- which could be a bad sign. If this was something he could return from by, say, Christmas, I think we would have known that by now.

Photo: AP
Posted on: September 21, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 3:49 pm

Quinnipiac duo arrested on assault charges

By Matt Norlander

There's been far too much of this in college basketball for far too long. It sounds pious, but can you disagree? Too many college athletes can't control their tempers and are winding up in cuffs because of it. And don't get me wrong: regular college-goers are just as bad. I had friends in college who threw knuckles once a month. (They are not my friends anymore.) Youth always has its pockets of violence.

Still, this is a terrible look for your program. Small-time Quinnipiac is the latest program to receive a black eye because of the bad behavior of its players. James Johnson, a senior guard, and sophomore Ike Azotam, were "charged early Sunday morning with assault and breach of peace following a fight on campus."

The two got into a brouhaha with some fellow students late Saturday/early Sunday and couldn't control themselves. The assault complaint came at 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning on Quinnipiac's campus, according to NBC Connecticut.
A Quinnipiac University student reported he tried to break up a fight when Ike Azotam, 20, struck him in the face, according to police. A second student attempting to break up the fight told officers he was punched in the face several times as well. Officers determined James Johnson, 21, was the person who allegedly punched the student, police said.

This awful behavior meant third-degree assault charges for the twosome. Additionally, a second-degree charge of breaching the peace was levied against them.

Johnson was a 16-points-per-game guy last season. Azotam is one of the key low-post players for a team that can vie for the Northeast title. Both were released on $5,000 bond. Their court date is Sept. 26. Regardless of the outcome, a suspension seems inevitable.

The university's response to the arrests, in full:

“The university is investigating the matter,” said Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs. “The students involved have been fully cooperating with the Hamden police, campus security and student affairs. The investigation will follow the university’s normal judicial process.”

That process means, once the case clears through the legal system, school officials will then decide what to do with the students.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com