I missed this yesterday (Wilpon PR people! Where was my head’s up email?!), but the Daily News reports that 500 of Bernie Madoff’s victims wants Irving Picard — the guy who is supposed to be suing to recover money to benefit these victims — to be replaced as trustee.
The reason? According to the lawyer representing these victims, Picard has been dishonest and has withheld information. The filing specifically cites a settlement Picard reached with a Madoff co-conspirator. I’ve not seen the filing and the Daily News is less than 100% clear about what the victims are alleging, but you would expect to see a filing like this if victims felt that the trustee did not use his best efforts in landing the settlement or did not get enough money out of it. You would not expect victims to argue that, say, the trustee has overreached and landed too great a recovery.
Yet, despite this, the Daily News then pivots to multiple comments from politicians — most notably Congressmen Peter King and Gene Ackerman — who accuse Picard of being overzealous in going after the Wilpons and the Mets. It seems to me, however, that such claims are not similar to the claims of victims who think that Picard was not zealous enough in recouping their losses. Which is it?
But there is a common thread: dishonesty. The victims claim that Picard withheld information that would have helped them. The Wilpons and their surrogates claimed in their recent motion to dismiss that Picard withheld information that would have harmed his case. Despite the differences between the victims’ and the Wilpons’ positions, that’s a claim that is worth watching and with which the court will now occupy itself.
One additional note: over at Amazin’ Avenue, Matthew Callan asks why this didn’t get picked up by more people yesterday:
This morning, most of the Mets news centers around a Times story that claims the Mets have suffered significant financial losses in the last few years–as much as $50 million in 2010 alone. A big story, definitely, one I’ve heard and seen discussed in multiple media. But the Picard-must-resign story remains curiously unexplored by anyone outside the News.
This gives weight to my conspiracy theory (put forward earlier this week) that the harsh treatment the Wilpons have received from the press in re: Madoff has little to do with justice or financial malfeasance and more to do with raking them over the coals for the team’s performance. Because otherwise, a call for Picard’s resignation would have to be big news. Even if you think the News is totally in the tank for the Wilpons, it’s a story that at least deserves investigation and comment, if only to dismiss it. Doesn’t it? Or am I the only nut who thinks so?
I’ll grant that there is a lot of Mets schadenfreude going on with this story and that — hey — when the story isn’t about something dreadful happening to the Wilpons, some people turn their receptors off. I’d submit, however, that there is a less conspiratorial reason for this: the Picard-must-go story is only tangentially-related to the Mets.
Rather, it’s about a dispute between Picard and his clients related to a deal that has nothing to do with the Wilpons or the Mets, the grandstanding and irrelevant quotes of Peter King notwithstanding. While I noted above that there is at least one link — Picard’s alleged disingenuousness — it’s a tenuous link based more on overarching case themes, not the hard news of the day. As a lawyer I find this stuff interesting and relevant, but you can’t look at this story and say, in simple terms, that it affects the Mets in a direct, reportable way. Not yet anyway.
Anyway, that’s my theory. If the Mets are front-and-center, it gets coverage. If not, it’s simply not a sexy story outside the business and/or legal press.