The owners of the New York Mets were accused of reaping $300 million of fictitious profits from Bernard Madoff's record Ponzi scheme, a lawsuit by the trustee seeking money for Madoff's victims said.
In a sweeping 365-page lawsuit unsealed on Friday, the trustee, Irving Picard, said the partners at Sterling Equities, including the Mets' Fred Wilpon, were simply in too deep -- having substantially supported their businesses with Madoff money -- to do anything but ignore the gathering clouds.
Picard said the baseball team itself had 16 Madoff accounts from which it withdrew more than $90 million of bogus profits to fund day-to-day operations.
Wilpon and Saul Katz, who are Sterling's co-founders, in a joint statement called Picard's lawsuit an outrageous strong-arm effort to coerce a settlement and ruin their reputations and businesses.
They said they never knew or suspected that Madoff ran a Ponzi scheme, and will defend against the lawsuit.
Wilpon repeated that he may sell part of the Mets as a result of Picard's litigation.
The case is Picard v. Katz et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)