Oboe Soloist Sentenced for Second Career as Bookie
By Vivien Schweitzer
A federal judge yesterday sentenced classical oboist H. David Meyers to a year and a day in prison for money laundering and running an illegal sports-betting operation in Montgomery County, Maryland, reports The Washington Post.
Meyers's attorneys warned that the sentence could destroy the (musical) career of the 61-year-old oboist, who who performed last year with musicians of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic as soloist on a recording of a long-lost Beethoven concerto.
Meyers was in court yesterday after pleading guilty in November to three counts of operating an illegal gambling business and money laundering. The Post initially reported that he was facing up to 20 years in prison.
Between early 2001 and 2004, according to his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, he operated a business (run with his brother, brother-in-law and brother-in-law's son) called Sports International 2000, which helped gamblers place bets on college and pro football and basketball games.
According to the Post, Meyers gave prospective bettors individual passwords, code numbers and access to a toll-free telephone line that connected them to a wire-transfer room on the Caribbean island of Dominica. Bettors placed wagers through the offshore wire room or through a Web site that was also reportedly run from Dominica.
Meyers's brother-in-law and his son have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing; Meyers's brother Harold, also involved in what prosecutors believe was a well-run and substantial organization, was indicted in 2006.
Meyers had no prior criminal record when he was arrested last year, but he did have a long history of good works. For more than two decades, he organized charitable concerts at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center in aid of organizations such as Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., according to the Post.
After graduating from George Washington University law school in 1971, Meyers started a business in Rockville called Timesaver Inc., which helped low-income people establish credit lines with banks.
Meyers told the Post that it's all a misunderstanding, adding that Sports International was a way to supplement his badly compensated musical career, explaining, "Everything I've been charged with, I have a legitimate defense."
Meyers does reportedly regret his actions and is willing to take responsibility for them. But, writes the paper, he claims he had no idea he was violating any laws.
Regarding a potentially long stretch in prison, Meyers says all he will really miss is playing the oboe, which he practices two to three hours a day.
"If I go to jail, my playing days are over," he told the Post. "Itzhak Perlman once said: 'If I miss one day of practice, I know the difference. If I miss two days, my fellow musicians know. Three days, and the entire world knows.'"
But Meyers may be in luck: prison authorities will reportedly decide whether he will be allowed to practice in the slammer. And he could be out in nine months for good behavior.
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