As the New York Mets prepare for the 2011 season, team owners are busily seeking a buyer interested in a partial stake in the club.
The organization is still in need of a cash infusion after Major League Baseball loaned it $25 million last month, and principal owner Fred Wilpon and several family members are facing a lawsuit up to $1 billion related to the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.
And on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reports that Mets owners could face additional allegations from a court-appointed trustee tasked with recovering money for victims of the Madoff scheme should a settlement not be reached.
The trustee, Irving H. Picard, filed a lawsuit in December against Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz alleging that they should have known about the fraudulent activities because of their long-term relationship with Madoff. Picard is seeking some $300 million in false profits the team owners and associates withdrew prior to Madoff's scheme falling apart, and an additional $700 million in principal.
Citing unnamed people familiar with the situation, he Journal reports that lawyers for Picard have told the defendants that if they don't reach a settlement, they will add more allegations by a March 18 deadline.
The new allegations relate to amounts of investments with Madoff by the Mets owners and associates.
Wilpon and Katz deny Picard's allegations and called the suit an attempt to "strong arm" a settlement. Both parties have submitted their positions to former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who is serving as mediator in this case.
"What the judge has asked and what the judge asks of all mediators is that you seek to create a solution that saves time, saves money and shortens or does away with litigation," Cuomo told the Journal. "That's what we'll try to do -- that's the objective."
As for the possibility of settlement, Cuomo said: "The job of the mediator is to either find the road or make the road."