SBD/December 8, 2010/Franchises

Trustee In Madoff Case Sues Wilpon Family For Profiting On Scam

Wilpon's Sterling Equities Promises Madoff Lawsuit Will Not Impact Mets' Payroll

Irving Picard, the trustee seeking assets for victims of Bernie Madoff, yesterday sued Mets Owner the Wilpon family, which "had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the global Ponzi scheme," according to Lattman & Schmidt of the N.Y. TIMES. Sterling Equities, the Wilpon-controlled company that owns the Mets, was "named as a defendant in the case along with its partners, family members, and certain related trusts and entities." Sterling Equities said in a statement, "Regardless of the outcome of these discussions, we want to emphasize that the New York Mets will have all the necessary financial and operational resources to fully compete and win. That is our commitment to our fans and to New York." When Madoff was arrested in '08, there was "widespread speculation that the Wilpons lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the fraud." But in October '09, Picard "revealed in a court filing that an account called Mets Limited Partnership put a total of $522.7 million into Madoff accounts and withdrew $570.5 million, a profit of $47.8 million." Lattman & Schmidt note the lawsuit "comes as the Mets are sending out repeated signals that they intend to spend little money this winter on free agents despite their disappointing performance on the field in recent seasons." It is unclear "whether the Mets' current reluctance to spend money is also being influenced by the Madoff lawsuit, and the financial burden it could pose" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/8). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Chad Bray noted under federal bankruptcy law, Picard "must bring such lawsuits by Dec. 11, the two-year anniversary of Madoff's arrest and his firm's demise" (WSJ.com, 12/7).

BARGAIN SHOPPING: In N.Y., David Waldstein notes while some MLB teams "contemplate gigantic financial commitments to various stars, the Mets sift through the discount bins looking for deals." For the Mets, the MLB Winter Meetings "have so far been mostly a drab exercise in accounting," but "next year, and the years after, could be far different." With several large contracts "coming off the books after next season, the Mets could reduce their payroll by as much as" $60M, which would allow Mets GM Sandy Alderson to "reshape the team" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/8).

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