One of the major points of contention in the ongoing legal struggle between the Mets owners and Irving Picard, who is the trustee representing a group of victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, is whether the Wilpons company Sterling Equity made "fictitious profits" from the scheme. The two sides were in court yesterday to plead their cases before a federal appeals panel, with one judge calling the profits “figments of the imagination.“
Another Judge questioned whether a court-appointed trustee should be expected to make payouts based “on whatever amount Madoff made up while chewing on his pencil and looking at the ceiling.“ No decisions were made, but it was clear that this legal battle will go on much longer than the Wilpons would care for, which could affect the Mets sooner rather than later—the Wilpons have already announced they are willing to sell up to 49 percent of the team.
Former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who is the designated mediator in the legal dispute, was also on hand for the proceedings. Picard and his group are seeking $300 million from the Wilpons it says were phony profits, plus up to another $700 million as penalty for the defendants’ alleged willful blindness to steady double-digit returns that defied down markets.