Owners of the New York Mets have been ordered to pay back $83 million in profits they earned from Bernie Madoff’s investment company. The teams executives will also proceed to trial where they will be questioned as to whether they turned a blind eye to the New York investors massive multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.
The ruling was handed down by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff after Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee for the Madoff estate waged a battle against Mets owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon.
The victory is only part of Picard’s battle against the Mets owners, he is currently seeking more than $386 million in profits from the ball club executives. According to Picard the Madoff money became so important to the Mets owners that they turned a “willfully blind” eye on the ponzi scheme.
The New York Mets owners will go to trial on March 19, just two weeks before they’re set to open the 2012 season at home. In the meantime Judge Rakoff has publicly said he’s skeptical that the Mets owners knew of the massive fraud being perpetrated by the Mets owners.
In a brief statement on Monday Rakoff revealed:
“Conclusions are no substitute for facts, and too much of what the parties characterized as bombshells proved to be nothing but bombast. Nevertheless, there remains a residue of disputed factual assertions from which a jury could infer either good or bad faith depending on which assertions are credited.”
In 2010 Picard attempted to sue the Mets for $1 billion, a number that was capped at $386 million last September by Judge Rakoff.
The Mets in the meantime have been in financial trouble over the last several years, borrowing against its assets and accepted a $25 million line of credit from Major League Baseball and another $40 million from Bank of America Corp. Under those loans amount the Mets are in violation of the MLB’s rules regarding franchise loan amounts.
In a statement regarding the upcoming lawsuit Katz and Wilpon’s real-estate firm Sterline Partners said:
“We look forward to demonstrating that we were not willfully blind to the Madoff fraud.”
Do you think the New York Mets owners turned a blind eye to the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme?