Updated 03/19/2012 11:22 PM
Sources: Mets Owners Sell Team Shares Following $162M Settlement With Madoff Victims' Trustee
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The owners of the Mets raised some extra cash on Monday as they reached a settlement with the trustee for Bernard Madoff's fraud victims.
Sources tell NY1 that 12 minority shares were sold, including three to family members, for a total of $240 million.
This came the same day that Mets owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon agreed to pay $162 million to settle allegations they were "willfully blind" to Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
Under the deal reached Friday, Wilpon and Katz will not be required to pay anything for three years.
Irving Picard, the trustee for Madoff's victims, was seeking $300 million from the two men.
As part of the settlement, Picard is also dropping the claim that Wilpon and Katz were "willfully blind" to Madoff's scheme. Instead, the money being paid is being termed "profit" from a six-year period prior to Madoff's bankruptcy.
Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, a childhood friend of Wilpon's, also reportedly invested with Madoff at Wilpon's urging.
Outside the courtroom, both sides were satisfied with the outcome.
"We are not willfully blind. We never was. We acted in a good faith and we're very pleased that this settlement bares that out," Wilpon said.
"Litigation is negative energy. So, we are very pleased to have this behind us," Katz said.
"The most important thing is, is that the victims now will receive the benefit of $162 million. Ultimately, that's the goal of all the litigation brought by the trustee," Picard said.
Former Governor Mario Cuomo, who was an appointed mediator in the case, urged the Mets owners to settle rather than risk trial.
"I think what it allows for the Wilpons and Katz and whole family is a return to normalcy," Cuomo said.
The three-year payment window gives Wilpon and Katz a chance to get their finances in order.
The two still have outstanding loans to Major League Baseball and Bank of America for tens of millions of dollars, sparking debate as to whether they can afford to keep full control of the team.
"The first priority will be getting down to Florida tomorrow, getting down to that spring training camp and trying to bring the New York Mets back to prominence that our fans deserve," Wilpon told reporters.
When Madoff went broke, the Mets owners also lost money they still had invested with him. Now, as part of the settlement they will be able to make claims just like other victims.
Ironically, that could mean they will ultimately get back some, if not all, of the millions they have just agreed to pay.