For years, Adam Meyer has occupied a unique space on the local sports scene. A "sports handicapper," he boasted he could predict which team would win 60 percent of the time, and through his Real Money Sports Inc., he offered that edge to gamblers for annual fees up to $250,000.
According to federal prosecutors, though, Meyer also had a side business in extortion and fraud. He was indicted this week in Wisconsin for allegedly concocting an elaborate scheme to threaten a former customer to give him more than $25 million.
Meyer's name is likely familiar to any serious fan of the University of Miami, because he also played a role in the Nevin Shapiro scandal. The Ponzi schemer sent millions to Meyer for sports bets, with the handicapper later agreeing to repay investors nearly $1 million.
The charges in Wisconsin stem from a client in Fond du Lac who went to Meyer for gambling advice in 2007. Within a year, the man wired more than $1.2 million to the handicapper; for reasons unspecified in the indictment, that money was later seized by law enforcement officials in Florida.
That's when, the feds say, Meyer's scheme rolled into motion. The handicapper soon called the Wisconsin gambler back with disturbing news: A bookie named "Kent Wong" was threatening Meyer over an unpaid debt -- and Wong believed the Wisconsin man was his "gambling partner," equally on the hook.
Soon, Wong himself began calling the Wisconsin man, according to the indictment. The man's family, Wong said, would be in danger if he didn't pay up. Between July 2009 and December 2011, the man wired millions, the feds say.
Then, in early 2012, the Wisconsin man told Meyer the game was up. He wanted out. Meyer, prosecutors say, agreed and said he'd travel to Wisconsin to repay some of the money. Instead, he showed up with an associate who pulled a gun and threatened the man, who eventually wired another $9.8 million to Florida.
But prosecutors say Kent Wong, in fact, never existed. He was simply an alter ego of Meyer's, and the gambling expert used all the millions the Wisconsin man sent for his own purposes.
Meyer stands accused of fraud by wire, radio, or television; interfering with commerce through threats of violence, racketeering, and extortion; and gun charges.
He plans to plead not guilty, his attorney, Brian Bieber, tells Riptide.
"The indictment sets forth many facts, some of which are inaccurate," Bieber says. "The courtroom is the most appropriate place for the details to come to light. And that's what we expect to happen."
Meyer's role in Nevin Shapiro's case came to light as trustees sought to unwind the $800 million Ponzi scheme that blossomed into a colossal scandal for UM. Shapiro was a high-profile booster for the football and basketball teams who later leveled charges of wrongdoing by coaches and assistants. A trustee later found that Shapiro had sent at least $5 million to Meyer to place bets for him; Meyer eventually agreed to repay $900,000.
For a time, he was a regular on local TV and national news shows, talking up his sports betting prowess: