Mets Took Loan from MLB

Friday, Feb 25, 2011  |  Updated 7:12 PM EDT
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Bernie Madoff: Live by the Bull, Die by the Bull

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The Mets' excitement over bolstering their bullpen has been tempered by the news that team owner Fred Wilpon's Sterling Equities Inc. had invested with Madoff -- to the tune of possibly $300 million.

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The New York Mets have acknowledged they received a loan from Major League Baseball to help cover expenses in November.

The team said in a statement Friday it expected to have "a short-term liquidity" problem and were helped by the league. The New York Times and Daily News said the amount was $25 million.

Mets owner Fred Wilpon and various family members are facing a lawsuit seeking in excess of $300 million in relation to the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.  Up to $1 billion could be pursued, sources have said.

The trustee Irving H. Picard claimed the Mets were net winners with their Madoff investments and ignored warnings that Madoff's high returns might be false.

The Mets announced last month they were looking to sell a non-controlling interest in the team of 20 to 25 percent to raise several hundred million dollars.

The loan from MLB is expected to be repaid within months, sources familiar with the transaction told the Daily News.

Picard has filed dozens of lawsuits, including against the Mets owners, Fred Wilpon and his Sterling Equities associates, for allegedly ignoring warning signs of fraud as they continued to cash in over the years. Madoff told the New York Times this month that Wilpon and Saul Katz, Wilpon's brother-in-law and business partner "knew nothing. They knew nothing," he said.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Burton R. Lifland appointed former New York governor Mario Cuomo to mediate the dispute.

Madoff's nearly two-decade scheme ensnared thousands of victims, including charities, celebrities and institutional investors. An estimated $20 billion was lost, making it the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history.

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