The Wilpons have settled their lawsuit with the trustee of the Bernie Madoff victims on Monday, the day the trial was set to begin. The deal calls for them to pay $162 million. But in the end, they may not have to pay a dime.
“I am very, very pleased for ourselves and our families. This was really a team effort,” Wilpon said as he left the courthouse (left, with co-defendant Saul Katz).
The judge had previously ruled that the Mets would have to pay at least $83.3 million in “fictitious profits” from the Madoff scam. Irving Picard was trying to get $386 million, so this settlement seems fair.
“I think this has all the hallmarks of a good settlement in the sense that nobody came alway absolutely happy with how it came out,” said Picard attorney David Sheehan. “But on balance, taking into account all the various factors in the case, this is a very fair and reasonable outcome.”
Here’s why this was a great stroke of luck for the Wilpons: The agreement says they don’t have to pay for three more years, so they have plenty of time to get their financial house in order. Plus, they are claiming they are victims of the scam and are seeking $178 million in restitution. So not only might they not have to pay the $162 million, they could come away with as much as $14 million in their pockets. That could pay for a couple of starting pitchers!
This is good news for the Mets. Now at least the team can move forward with some idea of what their financial picture looks like. It doesn’t mean the Mets are going to go out and spend big money; I think the $90 million payroll is here to stay for some time.
And so are the Wilpons. This is a manageable figure for them so they will not be forced to sell the team, much to the chagrin of many Mets fans.