New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz settled with a trustee for the plaintiffs in the Bernard Madoff case for $162 million.
Judge Jed Rakoff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan announced the agreement Monday morning, just as jury selection was about to begin in a civil trial to determine how much Wilpon and Katz would owe other investors who trusted their money to Madoff, who was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009 for masterminding a $20 billion Ponzi scheme.
Under the agreement, the baseball team will pay the amount over five years.
Trustee Irving Picard had argued that the Mets owners knew of Madoff’s corruption but continued their investments because they were profitable. Lawyers for Wilpon and Katz said the owners hadn’t known about the scheme. Had the ballclub lost in court, they could have been on the hook for more than $300 million.
The financially ailing Mets took out a $40 million bridge loan in December. A year earlier, Wilpon and Katz received a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball. Bonds sold by conduit issuer New York City Industrial Development Agency paid to build Citi Field, which opened in 2009.
The agency sold $630 million of tax-exempt bonds secured by payments in lieu of taxes and $66 million of taxable bonds in 2006 and 2009 on behalf of Queens Ballpark Co.