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BREAKING: The Mets owners have settled with the bankruptcy trustee for $162 million

Mar 19, 2012, 9:28 AM EDT

File image of New York Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon talking to reporters at a news conference in New York Reuters

UPDATE: Richard Sandomir reports that the settlement is for $162 million.

This is still a hefty chunk of change, but it is less than the liability they faced. And, more importantly, it brings certainty to what has been an uncertain liability hanging over the team’s head for a couple of years now.

9:27 AM: The trial involving the Mets owners and the bankruptcy trustee in the Bernie Madoff mess was to begin this morning.  Minutes ago, however, it was announced that the parties have reached a settlement.

This was not expected. And at the moment we have no details.  We’ll update as soon as we learn some.

Instant reaction, though: My guess is the Wilpons and Saul Katz don’t settle unless it allows them enough financial comfort to keep control of their most treasured asset, the New York Mets.

  1. Francisco (FC) - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Does this mean they won’t cut Mike Pelfrey to save a few million?

    • bsbiz - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      No, silly. This is the money that was supposed to go to Jose Reyes.

  2. redguy12588 - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Congrats Mets fans, you get to keep the Wilpons!

  3. phukyouk - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    this totaly sucks. as a Yankees fan i always rooted for the Muts assuming they were not playing the Yanks. but i was hoping that this would cripple the Wilpons and force them to sell. sorry mets fans….

    • sdelmonte - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      I think I am a minority of one, but I really don’t have a problem with the Wilpons owning the team. I think until recently, they did a good job. (I root for the Knicks and Islanders. Those teams have owners that make the Wilpons look like the Rooneys.)

      But I also don’t see the Wilpons getting much more time from Selig to fix things. The clawback suit would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the camel is still carrying far too much debt. I figure that if there is not a plan to pay down the debt and get the team back to being able to spend cash by year’s end, Selig will take action.

      • lardin - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:20 AM

        Yeah, It could be worse. The Dolans could own them. Could you imagine what the Yankees would look like today if Steinbrenner sold the Yankees to Dolan?

      • sdelmonte - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:26 AM

        I think I just heard thousands of Yankees fans sighing in relief that such a thing never happened. The Boss at his absolute Howie Spira worst was never as infuriating as the Dolans.

      • Baseball Beer Burritos In That Order - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        You are definitely a minority of one, and I don’t know what planet you just wandered from where the Wilpons owning the team is “ok”.

      • stex52 - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:31 PM

        The Wilpons ran what was undoubtedly one of the most dysfunctional baseball organizations ever put together. I don’t think that the fact that the Knicks and the Islanders were worse should take them off the hook. I had figured one of the real bright spots for the Mets was the possibility that they would get new management.

        I have never been anything approaching a Met fan, but you get to the point of seeing it would be better for baseball in general if that was a healthy franchise. Won’t be with this management.

      • drunkenhooliganism - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:42 PM

        Selig will get right to the Mets ownership issues as soon as he quickly finishes the A’s stadium situation. Fred Wilpon IV should start getting his finances in order.

  4. sdelmonte - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Once the burden of proof was on the Wilpons, it seemed like a very smart move to offer to settle. The surprise to me is that Picard took the offer, given the odds in his favor and given the tone of his pre-trial statements. I guess at the end of the day, being sure you will have a lot of money is better than being fairly certain you could have even more money.

  5. jason1214 - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    So basically, the Wilpon’s just admitted they knew Madoff was a lying scumbag. Enjoy the Wilpons Met fans.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:55 AM

      Yeah not exactly. As sdelmonte notes about, the Wilpons were screwed one the burden of proof was on them. And considering how insane some juries are with their damage awards, it was smart for them to settle.

      • crisisofinfinitephils - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:07 AM

        As a met fan, I only would’ve been happy if the wilpon’s were in orange jumpsuits. Everything about those two makes my skin crawl. From buying the mets with someone else’s money, to Fred’s insistence that his idiot son be involved with/left with the team. Also the mets are their only real asset and they’ll hold on for dear life.

      • paperlions - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:23 AM

        They didn’t need to admit it, the evidence is already available. They were told point blank, even by someone they specifically hired to check him out, and they turned a blind eye.

      • jason1214 - Mar 19, 2012 at 8:25 PM

        I was being sarcastic. I would’ve settled too, the Wilpons were stuck

  6. ikedavisnose - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    Please for the love of GAWD sell the team if noy we’re all screwed and if the don’t sell then please Papa Selig force them out

  7. uyf1950 - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Does that $162MM settlement include the $30MM+ the judge orderd the Mets owners to payback a week or 2 ago. Or is it in addition to?

    • yankeesfanlen - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      It may be “funny money” after all. According to the brief article in the NYT, it can be claimed from the clawback that Katz and Wilpon get from the remaining Madoff funds. Picard is making everything go round and round.

  8. loge23 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    Probably just enough of a settlement for the Wilpons to keep the franchise in the lifestyle they have become accustomed to: poorly run.
    Not much left for the fans with this announcement except staying away from Ebbetts II.

  9. aceshigh11 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Maybe someone here with some legal knowledge can clear this up:

    My Dad was telling me that the judge essentially put the burden of proof on the Wilpons to prove their innocence.

    That’s basically the inverse of how our justice system operates. First of all, is that true, and secondly, how is that legal?

    • umrguy42 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      I don’t know all the details, and IANAL, but yes, it’s true, and it may help you to know that this is a CIVIL case, not criminal. The latter still requires presumption of innocence, the former, not necessarily.

      • aceshigh11 - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:10 PM

        That makes more sense then. Thanks.

  10. Old Gator - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Seems to me the Wilpons are getting pilloried for all the disastrous choices Omar Minaya made, when the only disastrous choice the Wilpons made was Omar Minaya….

    or something like that.

    On the other hand, look at how much of their stolen money they got to keep.

  11. Baseball Beer Burritos In That Order - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Excuse me, I’m just going to go out back and smash bottles against the shed.

  12. bsputnik - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    This is the biggest bunch of B.S. I have ever heard.

    If the Wilpons knew that Madoff was a fraud, why did they still keep a s*** load of money with him?

    If the Wilpons knew, shouldn’t the federal government have been able to figure it out too? They are the ones who are supposed to be looking for it. Sue the SEC and the regulators individually. They are more to blame even if the Wilpons did know. How do you miss something this big even when you had looked into it?

    If the Wilpons knew, why wouldn’t every other idiot who thought they were getting free money figure it out? Make no mistake, they all were looking for free money with a can’t-miss investment. If someone comes to you offering 5% no matter the market, its a scam. No one is that good.

    If the Wilpons knew, why isn’t the entire Madoff family in jail? They all certainly would have known then.

    Make them pay back any gains. That is the only thing they should be liable for other than the balance they lost.

    • Reflex - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:57 PM

      Because they made money with Madoff? Knowing he’s a fraud does not preclude them from deciding it was profitable to stay with him. Furthermore, he was promising returns of 12-20%, which is technically illegal(can’t make promises like that in securities) yet the Wilpons continued.

      Also, they were told to their face by someone they hired to do due dilligence that he was a fraud. They fired the person who told them that.

      The Wilpons were negligent at the least, complicit at best. Fuck em. Hopefully nothing else they have recovers so they get forced to sell.

  13. jimbo1949 - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Near as I can figure, they owe $162M in clawback money and they figure to get paid back $178M+- from the clawback pool. They will be given about 4 years to pay, as the money they are being paid for their losses comes in. So it seems that they profited $162M, which they are supposed to pay back, and they will get back $178M+- of their loss.

    or something like that.

  14. jfk69 - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    Fransesca just got on his horse today in defense of the theiving one percenters named Wilpon. He confimed their ignorance and his own by stating many rich people were also taking in.
    With that logic ,this makes the second time the Wilpons aka The Ropers were caught with their hand in the ez money cookie jar.
    I guess it make sense if he wants access to the “New Mets”. Now that ‘s what i call unbiased reporting.

  15. bigjimatch - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    Prior to Madoff, the Wilpons always spent just as much as the other big market teams not named Yankees, including recently giving big money to Bay and Santana.

    If the Wilpons use this settlement and the sale of $48% of the team to invest in the team and raise payroll, then all is forgiven. If they still intend on having a payroll that is not in the top 2-5, then they need to sell.

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