The owners of the Mets will pay $162 million to settle the lawsuit brought against them by Irving Picard, trustee of the Madoff Recovery Initiative, according to an agreement announced March 19, in Manhattan federal court.
Picard had sued Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, along with various family members and business associates, for more than $300 million they invested with Ponzi scheme king Bernie Madoff. Jury selection in the case was about to begin.
The Wall Street Journal quoted District Court Judge Jed Rakoff, who was hearing the case, as saying, “Although the outcome is an anticlimax, it is always helpful when the parties are able to resolve their differences.”
More than half of the settlement, $83 million, represents money Rakoff had already ordered the Mets’ owners to pay. The total will be paid out of funds Wilpon and Katz are expected to receive because the Mets were a “net loser” in the Madoff investment scam, the Journal reported, citing a lawyer for Picard as saying the team’s chances of recovering money are good.
The New York Times said the Mets won’t have to make a payment for three years, but will instead drop their own claims against the Madoff bankruptcy estate.
The team’s financial woes, many but not all stemming from the collapse of the Madoff Ponzi scheme, bode poorly for the upcoming seasons, according to analysts, including Queens Chronicle sports columnist Lloyd Carroll, who is also a certified public accountant.
The team’s payroll has been cut by about $50 million, but manager Terry Collins says the players are still expected to perform. “I don’t want these guys to think for one second there aren’t any expectations,” the Journal quoted him as saying. “There are expectations. This is the major leagues. We’ve got a good team.”