The owners of the New York Mets settled a lawsuit Monday with Irving Picard, trustee for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, for $162 million, avoiding a potential costly trial.
The embattled Mets owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, were accused of turning a blind eye to Madoff's fraud and reaping profits despite warning signs, a charge they denied.
Picard originally sought to recover $1 billion for the victims, but U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff limited the suit to two years, limiting damages to $386 million. Under a March ruling, the owners must pay the victims $83 million and were liable for up to another $303 million.
The jury for the trial, scheduled to begin Monday, had not been selected.
The Wilpons hold most of their wealth through Sterling Equities, a real estate company, which would be difficult to liquidate. As a result, the owners have been seeking a minority owner to relieve the team's financial burden.
Wilpon reached an agreeement last year with hedge fund manager David Einhorn, who was to buy a 33 percent minority stake for $120 million, with an option for majority ownership in the future. But the deal fell apart in September.
“We will engage with other individuals, some who have been previously vetted by Major League Baseball, along with other interested parties, regarding a potential minority investment into the franchise,” Wilpon said in statement in September.
In December, the owners obtained a $40 million bridge loan from Bank of America.
The Mets have been plagued by injuries and not expected to be playoff contenders this year.