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Pasco Tribune

Former college hoops star, Pasco business owner sentenced on drug charges

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Published:   |   Updated: March 14, 2013 at 01:47 AM
TAMPA -

Former Penn State basketball star Gyasi Cline-Heard will spend the next 16 years in federal prison for conspiring to distribute crack cocaine.

Cline-Heard, who was arrested in Pasco County in February, is the son of former NBA player and coach Garfield Heard. Cline-Heard was considered, "the spiritual leader of the most memorable Penn State basketball team ever," according to a column written by David Jones for The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa.

In 2001, then seventh-seeded Penn State made news with one of the biggest upsets of the NCAA tournament, an 82-74 victory against second-seeded North Carolina, sending the Nittany Lions to round 16 for the first time since 1955, according to news reports at the time. Cline-Heard scored 19 points in the upset.

In the years following his college career, Cline-Heard played professional international basketball for countries including Belgium, Finland, Turkey, Germany and China, according to court filings.

But between 2010 and last February, Cline-Heard, also known as Legacy, became involved in crack dealing, according to Cline-Heard's plea agreement, which describes six sales Cline-Heard made to an undercover detective.

After he was arrested, Cline-Heard told detectives he was involved in distributing thousands of oxycodone pills in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, he began buying cocaine from sources in Texas, starting with half-kilo amounts and progressing to transactions of a kilo. Cline-Heard told investigators he then sold the cocaine to others.

The conspiracy involved acts of violence, and Cline-Heard admitted a "violent act" against another drug conspirator, according to a sentencing memorandum by defense attorney Grady Irvin.

Although Cline-Heard has not been charged in any murder, Irvin says in the sentencing memorandum that the defendant denies he had someone murder Clint Wilson, Heard's partner in Cherry Bomb Tattoos. Wilson was shot near the New Port Richey business in 2009.

When Cline-Heard was arrested in February, Pasco deputies said they had seized a cache of weapons from him and others big enough "to start a small coup and take over New Port Richey." But Irvin described Cline-Heard as an avid gun collector, writing that all 44 firearms seized by law enforcement in this case were "obtained legally and properly registered."

Garfield Heard wrote the court about his son, saying, "I don't know what caused Gyasi to stray off the path. … He was not raised that way."

The day Cline-Heard was arrested, his father wrote, "was a compete shock."

The father, whose NBA career included five years with the Phoenix Suns and a year as head coach of the Washington Wizards, said he and his son disagreed about the tattoo business.

"It was not the type of business that I wanted him involved in, but Gyasi wanted to express himself through tattooing and felt as though this business was the way to do it. … This news has completely floored our family and I can't understand what made him go in this direction."


esilvestrini@tamptrib.com (813) 259-7837 Twitter: @ElaineTBO

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