The bluff has been called, the documents have been unsealed and the allegations of just how deeply the Wilpons, Saul Katz and the Mets were in with Bernie Madoff is fairly staggering. The entire lawsuit can be read here.
Among the allegations: the Wilpons, Katz, their families and their business reaped $300 million in fictitious profits. The team itself had 16 separate Madoff accounts, from which $90 million was withdrawn and used to help fund the team’s “day-to-day operations.” And then there’s this, with “the Sterling Partners” referring to the Wilpon/Katz business:
“The Sterling partners were simply in too deep—having substantially supported their businesses with Madoff money—to do anything but ignore the gathering clouds,” the suit said. “Despite being on notice and having every resource at their disposal to investigate the litany of legitimate questions surrounding Madoff, the Sterling partners chose to do nothing.”
Not surprisingly, the Wilpons slammed the allegations today, calling them lies and strong-arm tactics and characterizing the trustee’s entire suit as “an abuse of power.” Their statement:
“The conclusions in the complaint are not supported by the facts. While they may make for good headlines, they are abusive, unfair and untrue. We categorically reject them. We should not be made victims twice over—the first time by Madoff, and again by the Trustee’s actions.”
In other news, non-Mets related allegations suggest that at least one bank — J.P. Morgan — knew that Madoff’s whole operation was a Ponzi scheme.
Yes, they are just allegations. But many of them — specifically those related to just how much money the Mets and the Wilpons lost to Madoff — are pretty darn specific. And they can certainly be true even if the ultimate conclusion the trustee makes — that the Wilpons knew or should have known it was all a scam — is shown to be false.
We’ve played some back and forth here about what the Wilpons knew and that’s all fun and worth watching, but this is most relevant for our purposes for the practical effect it will have on the Wilpons and the baseball team. Given the thermonuclear nature of the allegations and the sheer amount of money involved, it’s hard to sit here today and say that the Wilpons will simply be able to sell off a quarter of it, cut a check to the trustee and continue on their merry way. Indeed, such an assumption is now bordering on the naive.