NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) –– Call them the “miracle” Mets.
A last-minute deal ended a lawsuit that could have cost ownership control of the team. It was a $162 million settlement over claims the owners wrongly profited from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
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Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon was clearly relieved Monday after settling a claim from the trustee recovering money for Madoff’s victims. The trustee had demanded almost $400 million he said the Mets wrongly received from Madoff.
“Now I guess I can smile. Maybe I can take a day off,” Wilpon said.
Sports law expert and Fordham University professor Mark Conrad said the Mets knocked this one out of the park.
“The trustee was looking for as much money as possible, and it turns out that the settlement at this point is very much in the Mets favor,” Conrad said.
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As it turns out, the settlement might not cost Saul Katz and Wilpon any actual cash.
Here’s why. The Madoff trustee has recovered a pile of money — approximately $11 billion — to return to victims. The Mets filed a legal claim for a $178 million share of that pile, a claim which they now will cancel to pay off the settlement.
However, it is possible, when all the numbers are crunched, the Mets may end up shelling out up to $30 million.
“Litigation is negative energy, so we are very pleased to have this behind us,” Katz said.
But the “negative energy” of the Mets’ long association with Madoff won’t simply disappear. With trouble on and off the field, more than a few fans wish Wilpon and Co., would go away.
“They’re horrible,” one fan said.
“I wish they’d sell,” another fan added.
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The co-owners, however, said they’ll go extra innings to restore fans’ faith.
“And try to bring the New York Mets back to prominence that our fans deserve,” Wilpon said.
“Hopefully the Mets can move on from this, build from this, and definitely move on,” fan Sanford Lapsley said.
That will be a challenge for last year the team lost $70 million. With the settlement, the trustee dropped his claim that the Mets owners were “willfully blind” to the Madoff fraud, something Wilpon and Katz had strongly denied.
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