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NY Mets owners to pay $162 million to victims of Bernie Madoff

By Yukio Strachan     Mar 19, 2012 in Crime
New York - The owners of the New York Mets settled a lawsuit to victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme that accused the owners of lining their own pockets while willfully ignoring warning signs that Madoff was running a fraud.
The lawsuit said the owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, their families and their businesses “made so much easy money from Madoff for so long” that despite the many warnings — from within their own inner circle, and by other investors and financial institutions — they “chose to simply look the other way,” The New York Times reported.
“There are thousands of victims of Madoff’s massive fraud,” the lawsuit stated. “But Saul Katz is not one of them. Neither is Fred Wilpon.”
But at the time of the lawsuit, news reports say, Wilpon and Katz portrayed themselves not as perpetrators of the fraud but as victims of the fraud.
Madoff, who is serving a prison term of 150 years, plead guilty three years ago for running a 20-year Ponzi scheme that was the largest fraud in Wall Street history.
The settlement reached Friday, three days before the trial was to begin,"confirms that Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz and their partners acted at all times in good faith and didn't act willfully blind," said Robert Wise Jr., a lawyer for the Mets owners.
Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz  the owners of the Mets
Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, the owners of the Mets,
screengrab/ AssociatedPress via YouTube
The Wall Street Journal says a loss at trial could have cost them control of the team.
Trustee Irving H. Picard initially sought $1 billion from Mets owners on behalf of Bernard Madoff’s victims.
“This settlement is for the benefit of all the customers,” David J. Sheehan, counsel to the trustee, said outside the courtroom, says the New York Times. “That was our ultimate goal, to enhance the fund, which we did today, by $162 million. That is what we focused on. It isn’t whether we win or lose, it’s whether we enhanced the fund and helped the victims. That’s what we did today, so that’s why we did it.”
“In any settlement, nobody gets everything they want, but both sides got something,” former New York State Gov. Mario Cuomo, who oversaw mediation of the dispute, told reporters outside the courtroom, reports the Vancouver Sun. “This is common sense, there's no artistry here.”
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