The owners of the New York Mets are accused of making over $300 million from Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme in a lawsuit that was unsealed Friday. The lawsuit was filed by Irving Picard, the trustee who is seeking restitution on behalf the victims of Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
According to the lawsuit, which runs 365 pages long and can be viewed in full here, Sterling Equities, a firm headed by Mets owner Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, had 16 Madoff accounts, from which they withdrew $90 million to help fund the team's day-to-day operations. The suit alleges that Sterling Equities was in too deep with the scheme to not know that it was a sham and chose not to investigate legitimate questions surrounding Madoff.
Wilpon responded to these allegations Friday, calling them lies and accusing Picard of an abuse of power. He stands by his assertion that he was unaware of Madoff's fraud. The conclusions in the complaint are not supported by the facts. While they may make for good headlines, they are abusive, unfair and untrue. We categorically reject them. We should not be made victims twice over-the first time by Madoff, and again by the Trustee's actions.
According to Reuters, Katz, who is Wilpon's brother-in-law, said the suit amounted to little more than character assassination.
This lawsuit comes a day after Picard filed a similar suit against JP Morgan Chase for $6.5 billion.
The litigation has cast doubt on the immediate financial future of the Mets who currently have one of the highest payrolls in Major League baseball and is seen as the principal reason behind Wilpon's recent announcement that he would attempt to sell a 25% portion of the franchise.