July 12, 2020 – The NCAA and DEA contacted the Syracuse University basketball program back in the early 1990s because of players attending social events hosted by local drug kingpin Tyrone (Handsome Ty) Hines and his Boogie Down Boys crew, according to federal records. Hines often commandeered the Gardenia nightclub on the weekends as his only personal playground and brought in hip-hop acts like L.L. Cool J, Public Enemy, KRS-One, Heavy D and Eric B & Rakim to perform. Syracuse hoopsters and football players would get VIP treatment, per documents related to Operation Boogie Down.
The 54-year old Hines did more than two and a half decades behind bars on a narcotics conspiracy conviction. He was originally sentenced to life in prison in 1995, but President Trump’s First Step Act – offering sentencing relief to non-violent offenders – got him out after 26 years last November. Prosecutors made note of the Boogie Down Boys’ reputation for non-violence in a memo to U.S. District Judge Frederick Sullivan in Hines’ case requesting that he not be hit with a sentence of natural life. The plea for mercy fell on deaf ears.
While locked up, Hines used his time productively, penning four books, organizing social-activism endeavors from his cell and helping other inmates with their cases and causes. Today, Hines works maintenance at a hotel.
Handsome Ty built his crack cocaine empire on Syracuse’s South Side, reigning supreme on the streets from 1990 until his arrest in April 1994, weeks removed from Syracuse losing to Missouri 98-88 in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. Jim Boeheim has coached the Orange since 1976, leading the team to three a NCAA National Championship Games and the 2003 National Title.
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