Marshall `Mike' Meyer, 82, investigator who advised police, mayors, governors

February 16, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Marshall "Mike" Meyer, a private investigator who advised police commissioners, mayors and governors, died Sunday of pneumonia at his Timonium home. He was 82.

A specialist in electronic eavesdropping, he had a surveillance van painted to resemble a telephone truck and used it around the city for undercover work.

He also found during a 1970 review of security measures for Gov. Marvin Mandel that a civil defense hot line in the governor's office was being tapped.

"He was one of the most honorable people I've ever known. He was very, very discreet and careful in what he did. If he heard of a potential developing problem, he'd let me know," said Mr. Mandel.

Born in Chicago, he attended local public schools.

Standing over 6 feet tall and solidly built, he worked as a bodyguard as a young man and accompanied Judy Garland and Shirley Temple when they made personal appearances in Hollywood.

He joined the Army in 1941 and began what was to become a lengthy career in intelligence work. A military police officer during World War II, he was stationed in France and later became chief of the criminal investigation division of the Army Military Police.

In 1948, he was posted to the Army's Counterintelligence Corps at Fort Holabird in Southeast Baltimore and later served in Korea and Japan in Army intelligence.

"He was one of the bravest, finest friends I ever had," said Edwin J. Wolf, a retired Army colonel and his former commanding officer. "He later set up his own business and was consulted by some of the top professionals in Baltimore. He was successful because he was discreet."

Mr. Meyer left active military service in 1953 but remained in the Army reserves and formed a special operation unit for Army intelligence. In the 1950s, he formed Inter-State Bureau of Investigation, a business based in Roland Park.

Some of his clients included major law firms, Bethlehem Steel and area drug manufacturers. He sold the business to Kidde Corp. in 1969 and remained as vice president. In 1981, he formed Marshall M. Meyer Security Associates.

Throughout his career, he did undercover work for the city Police Department and quietly investigated internal affairs cases for former Baltimore Police Commissioners Donald Pomerleau and Frank J. Battaglia.

"He was a great man, a true patriot, who looked hard into the problems of crime," said state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer. "He published a number of pamphlets on the war on drugs. He was very concerned about young people and the scourge of drugs."

In 1988, Mr. Schaefer, then governor, chose him to form the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Group, an advisory group comprising 300 law enforcement professionals.

He also served on governmental boards and commissions, including the city's Judicial Nominating Commission, which makes recommendations on local judgeships. He also served on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and was a founding member of the Signal 13 Foundation, which provides financial support to police officers in need.

He was a 35-year subscriber to the Morris Mechanic Theatre. He routinely sat in Row D, on the aisle, and had a supply of wrapped candies available to prevent him from coughing.

He was a member of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. Services were held yesterday at the Church of the Nativity in Timonium.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, the former Madeleine Roveda; a son, Michael Meyer of Baltimore; two daughters, Michele Sullivan of Timonium and Vickie Chalfin of Los Angeles; and six grandchildren.

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