Correction to This Article
A March 5 Style article about H. David Meyers, an oboist who was awaiting sentencing in connection with money laundering and an illegal gambling business, incorrectly said that Meyers had a dozen solo appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra. Meyers now says he has had solo appearances with "members of" the orchestra.

For One Oboist, a New (and Unwanted) Record

H. David Meyers could receive a long prison sentence in federal court today.
H. David Meyers could receive a long prison sentence in federal court today. (By Carol Guzy -- The Washington Post)

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By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 5, 2007

From an early age, H. David Meyers had a talent for coaxing sweet, swirling notes from the oboe. At 15, he was performing at Carnegie Hall. Eventually he had a dozen solo appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra. Last year, at 61, he collaborated with musicians of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, one of Russia's most prestigious orchestras, as the soloist on a recording of a Beethoven concerto whose score had been lost for almost 200 years.

Today, however, Meyers will face the music in a courtroom in Greenbelt. Having pleaded guilty in November to three counts of operating an illegal gambling business and money laundering, he awaits sentencing by a federal judge. Meyers could receive up to 20 years in prison. Even one year away, he says, would surely spell the end of his music career.

Those who knew Meyers for his musical achievements likely had no idea of his other pursuits. Between early 2001 and 2004, according to his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Meyers operated a business called Sports International 2000 that solicited and helped place thousands of bets on college and pro football and basketball games from gamblers in Montgomery County, Northern Virginia and elsewhere.

Working with his brother-in-law, Robert Levine, and Levine's son Steven, Meyers gave prospective bettors individual passwords and code numbers, plus access to a toll-free telephone line that connected them to a wire-transfer room in the Caribbean nation of Dominica. Bettors placed wagers through the offshore wire room or through a Web site that apparently operated out of Dominica as well.

Official documents in the case spell out the businesslike operation of Meyers's organization. Losing bettors paid up, and winners were paid off, on Thursdays and Fridays at a series of regular locations, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Timpano's Italian restaurant in Rockville, and at a liquor store on Seven Locks Road in Potomac, near where Meyers formerly lived.

The Levines have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing; Meyers's brother, Harold, was indicted last year as well.

The precise extent of the operation is not detailed in Meyers's plea agreement, but prosecutors clearly believe it was substantial. The agreement, for example, notes that Sports International set up toll-free numbers to provide gamblers with updated betting lines on games. During one six-month period, these phone numbers received more than 50,000 calls, according to the agreement. Meyers, it notes, personally collected $10,010 from one losing bettor in Olney on April 16, 2004.

The money-laundering count stems from Meyers's efforts to transfer some of the gambling proceeds into his former girlfriend's bank account, in an effort to disguise their source.

The case is unusual, even bizarre, in several respects, not least of which is Meyers's elite status as a classical musician.

Meyers not only had no prior criminal record when he was arrested and handcuffed at his Potomac home last year, but he also had a long history of good works. For more than two decades, he organized charitable concerts at Lincoln Center in New York and at the Kennedy Center, benefiting such organizations as Children's Hospital in the District.

Meyers also had a long business career. After graduating from George Washington University law school in 1971, he started a business in Rockville called Timesaver Inc., which helped low-income people establish credit lines with banks. The company, which advertised nationwide with Mickey Mantle as its spokesman before going bankrupt in 1984, required customers to deposit a fixed sum with a bank, which then issued a card permitting the depositor to make purchases. "I am the inventor of the debit card," declared Meyer, who sat for a lengthy interview on Saturday. "It's not open to dispute. I invented it."

What's more, Meyers is the rare confessed felon with a New York public relations firm promoting his story. The company, Ken Sunshine Consultants, which represents the record company that issued Meyers's Beethoven CD, contacted The Post on Meyers's behalf.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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