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Mets owners out $83 million pre-Madoff trial

Mar 5, 2012, 11:59 AM EDT

Fred Wilpon

The trial hasn’t even started yet, but Mets owner Fred Wilpon is already going to have to shell out as much as $83.3 million to the trustee recovering funds from the losers in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

That was the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff on Monday. The two sides will go to trial on March 19 over the additional $303 million that trustee Irving Picard is seeking. For Picard to extract that much from Wilpon’s wallet, he’ll need to prove to a jury that the defendants were “willfully blind” to the fraud.

Rakoff had previously ruled that Picard couldn’t sue the Wilpons for the full $1 billion he wanted, lowering that amount instead to the $386 million they were said to profit in the two years preceding Madoff’s arrest. Today’s $83.3 million comes out of that.

It’s unclear if the Wilpons have $83.3 million to give away at this time. They have been trying to sell minority shares of the Mets, with mixed reports of their success in the endeavor. If the trial goes poorly later this month, it figures to be difficult for them to keep the team.

  1. nygf - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Well, they told us fans they offered Reyes near $100 million to stay this past offseason…why not just use that $$$? They sure as hell didn’t spend it on any players. I mean, seriously, they wouldn’t just say they had that amount of $$$ if it wasn’t true, right? Surely, someone would want to see that $$ eventually, right? You know, like when it came time to pay somebody and all of a sudden they didn’t have the $$ they said they had? I wonder what would happen in such a circumstance.

    • sdelmonte - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      I actually think that they expected to over the $83 million, and that’s why they didn’t re-sign Reyes.

      And if all they have to pay in the end is that, they will be very happy, given the $1 billion suit.

      • nygf - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:36 PM

        True…but they still owe $$$ all over town, not to mention the MLB, and have lost $$ at the park the last couple years. This is not me being a bandwagon fan saying my refusal to go to the park stems from them being a bad team, which they are, but I will still watch almost every game. I won’t give my $ to a group of clowns who I know won’t spend it on making the team I love a better team. I’ll come back when there is someone in place who will spend to make the team better, not cover their own asses cause they were careless, stubborn and got involved with the wrong person.

    • mets79 - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      It would have been about 20 million per year so they would not need to come up with 100 million this year (actually the reports were that they were willing to do 4 years at 80 million with a 5th year that exercised based on playing time (staying healthy)). But as for what would happen if someone couldn’t make payroll, just look at the Dodgers last year. They were under serious threat of not making payroll which meant MLB would have taken over. Poor Fred Wilpon, the Mets stuff I’m sure is a little annoying but the Dodgers stuff last year must have killed him.

  2. jhb64 - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Bring in mark Cuban

  3. jhb64 - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    This is the start of getting new owners!!

  4. mets79 - Mar 5, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    I’m a diehard fan too that watches every inning but I don’t think that all of the Mets problems are related to money. The Wilpons have spent plenty of money since they hired Omar Minaya but the problem was that it wasn’t spent wisely. When I hear that people want to get back to spending a ton of money I cringe because that won’t address their organizational issues. It is too early to tell but I am encouraged by the things Alderson has done with the farm system/draft. You need to have a solid core of young players before you add significant payroll. As much as it pains me to lose Reyes it may be a blessing because they really do need to start over and by the time they are relevant again Reyes will be a speed guy entering his 30’s who is injury prone. Speaking of injuries, that is one of the main things this team needs to fix. Injuries are part of the game but regularly misdiagnosing injuries is a joke. When it is all said and done though if these young pitchers they have work out then everything will be fine because pitching solves all your problems (not Moneyball).

    • nygf - Mar 5, 2012 at 3:15 PM

      I’m not saying they should’ve gone out and gotten Albert Pujols this year. But adding a little depth would certainly be nice. There is no depth (most of what used to be depth will be with the big club seeing significant ABs/Innings), so when the inevitable injuries come around we’ll be that much worse off.

      • mets79 - Mar 5, 2012 at 3:57 PM

        Fair point, apparently Sandy is planning to shop at the Dollar store to round out the roster once teams have to make their final cuts. The theory is that based on the new CBA there will be more available Major League ready players available at the end of spring training because you now have to pay a veteran 100k minimum to send them to the minors. So the Mets depth will be a bunch of guys who couldn’t make other teams. And you better believe they will not send any of their own veterans to the minors and pay them 100k.

        So in reading back my reply I am ashamed that this is the depth to which this team has fallen.

  5. drubeatz - Mar 5, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Money never solves your problems. The more you have, the more problems come. Sandy is doing an OK job. I like watching young talent. Wright seems to be headed towards the door this season. His body is falling apart. Poor guy, he says all the wright things. Keep building the farm and sell the scraps for more young talent. It’s a shame the Mets ownership made such poor decisions. Now we have to wait who knows how long for a playoff contending team.

  6. mindelm42 - Mar 5, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    mets are in HUGE financial trouble! How do you sign free agents or keep from losing your best players?

  7. cool10857 - Mar 5, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Say “goodbye” to the Mets, Fred and Jeff….

  8. mrznyc - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    The dirty Madoff money was where they got the cash to buy out Doubleday and, for years, was the money that was used to compensate for their horrible stewarship of the team. One can only hope that Mr. Picard manages to convince a jury that they should cough up the whole 303 million and kick these bums out.

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