01.28.11

Lawyer : Wilpons Were Madoff Enablers

Posted in Baseball, The Law at 10:45 pm by

Of reports earlier today Mets ownership would seek to peddle a minority stake in the team, the reliably-to-the-point Steve Keane declared, “I guess Cash 4 Gold couldn’t cut it for the Skill Sets,”, while Amazing Avenue’s Eric Simon pointed out, “if the Wilpons needed just a few million dollars in order to maintain the fiscal solvency required to run the Mets they could get that from any number of people and there never would have been a press release…we’re surely talking about a lot of money here.” Who’s your dream new owner of the Mets, folks? Mark Cuban or James Dolan? Maybe Jeff Loria would like to take a crack at a 3rd NL East franchise? If today’s earlier news wasn’t disturbing enough, a New York Times quartet of Alison Leigh Cowan, Peter Lattman, Serge F. Kovaleski and David Waldstein report the trustee representing victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme doesn’t consider Fred and Jeff Wilpon to be amongst those wrong. To the contrary, Irving Picard (above) hopes to demonstrate Mets ownership, “knew or should have known Madoff was operating a fraud”.

The lawsuit seeks to recover not only $300 million in what the trustee, Irving H. Picard, calls “fictitious profits” the difference between what the Wilpon and Katz entities put into Madoff’s investment firm and what they took out over their many years of investing” but also additional millions, according to the two lawyers, who would not be identified because of the secrecy surrounding the case.

On Friday, Mr. Wilpon, who has long portrayed himself and his family as victims of Mr. Madoff’s and who had insisted his personal finances were stable, announced that he would be seeking at least one “strategic partner” to buy a share of the Mets. In a statement, he asserted that he and his family would not give up principal ownership of the team, estimating that he would be willing to sell up to 25 percent of the club.

One person involved in the Madoff proceedings said it was possible Mr. Picard was seeking as much as $1 billion.

Mr. Picard has won roughly $10 billion in settlements from other Madoff investors whose fortunes he charged were amassed improperly through their lengthy history of investments with Mr. Madoff.

According to the lawyer involved in the case, Mr. Picard’s lawsuit will claim that Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz ignored or failed to heed what amounted to red flags in recent years about the potentially suspect nature of Mr. Madoff’s operation. The red flags, according to the lawyer, included concerns raised by officials at Merrill Lynch, the investment bank, and Peter Stamos, an investing partner of Mr. Wilpon’s

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