Bernard Madoff Trustee Wants $300+ Milllion From New York Mets Owners

A federal judge today unsealed a lawsuit filed against the owners of the New York Mets by the trustee representing victims of Bernard Madoff’s multibillion dollar Ponzi scheme.

In the 373-page complaint, Irving Picard accuses Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz of improperly profiting from Madoff’s criminal operation and alleges that the businessmen knew (or should have known) that the disgraced investor was running a fraud ring.

A PDF copy of Picard’s lawsuit can be downloaded here. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court complaint, filed in early-December, was originally sealed at Picard’s request in a bid to expedite settlement negotiations.

In the complaint, Picard alleges that Wilpon and Katz realized $300 million in “fictitious profits,” money that the trustee wants the men to disgorge (Picard refers to the $300 million withdrawn as “other people’s money”). Additionally, Picard is seeking hundreds of millions more from the duo since they allegedly “willfully turned a blind eye to substantial indicia of Madoff’s fraud.”

The complaint also reveals that Wilpon & Co. opened “coveted” Madoff accounts for 178 friends, business associates, and employees. These unnamed investors, Picard charges, “withdrew approximately $67 million in Fictitious Profits” from their Madoff accounts.

The document became public after Picard yesterday filed a letter requesting that the complaint be unsealed. That move was not opposed by the defendants, who have complained bitterly about media leaks concerning the substance of the lawsuit. The parties are scheduled for a court appearance next week before federal Judge Burton Lifland, who today ordered the Picard complaint unsealed.