Despite some vocal interest from the likes of Donald Trump in buying a majority share of the New York Mets, Jeff Wilpon says the team isn’t for sale — and he expects his family to be found innocent of charges that they unfairly profited from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Wilpon, the chief operating officer of the Mets, told reporters that no one was interested in selling a controlling share of the team. Talk of changes in the owners suite came last month when the Wilpons announced they would be seeking someone to buy a quarter of the team as they prepared to defend themselves and Sterling Equities over charges they profited from Madoff’s financial doings. The Wilpons and the Mets were all investors in funds managed by Madoff, but the funds weren’t legit: they were part of a huge Ponzi scheme that ended up causing thousands of clients to lose their investments, but apparently the Wilpons actually profited from their investments. So-called “clawbacks” are filed by a bankruptcy trustee against those who actually received more proceeds from the Ponzi scheme than they invested, on the theory that they were sharing in the proceeds of the fraud. A bankruptcy trustee has indicated he may seek up to a billion dollars from Sterling Equities.
Since then, things seem to have spiraled out of control, with speculation on whether the Wilpons would sell out completely, who would pay for Citi Field should the Wilpons sell (the answer: whoever buys the team — duh), and whether the team needed to spend more on free agents. The statements from Wilpon were designed, obviously, to let fans know that things are normal, that payroll will remain high, and that the current owners have no plans to leave. Still, these are pretty rough times for the Wilpons — and expect the New York City crowds to turn ugly if the team stumbles out of the gate.
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