Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hearing on Thursday could predict Mets Owners Fate in Madoff Case


According to the NY Times, Lawyers for the Mets’ owners and the trustee for the victims of Bernard L. Madoff’s fraud will meet in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, less than a month before a jury trial is scheduled to start.

Both sides have filed motions for summary judgment and a federal judge could decide from the bench and potentially make significant rulings in the multi-million-dollar case against the Mets’ owners.

The legal fight has lasted more than a year. It started in federal bankruptcy court and moved to district court. In total, it has produced thousands of pages of legal filings.

The stakes are high. Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, brothers-in-law and Mets’ co-owners, could be held liable at trial for $83 million to $386 million — and possibly more depending on future appeals.



Irving H. Picard, the trustee, is going after those he considers the illegitimate beneficiaries of Madoff’s scam. An adverse ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff could affect the trustee’s efforts to recover as much as money as he is seeking in this and many other cases.

If No decision is made on Thursday, the Trial could start as early as March 19 and last 10 days as the sides agreed last summer.

Tensions between them could erupt in court, particularly over Wilpon and Katz’s staunch contention that the trustee has distorted or fabricated evidence to shake them down for a big settlement. It could also be fascinating if Wilpon and Katz testify. Although they gave depositions, that doesn’t mean they will take the stand. But it would make sense that one of the trustee’s star witnesses, Noreen Harrington, would testify.

Harrington was the chief investment officer of a hedge fund that is partly owned by Sterling Equities, Wilpon and Katz’s family holding company; in 2003, she said in her deposition, she told Katz that she believed Madoff’s brokerage operation was illegal — or a fiction.
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