Madoff: Mets owners 'knew nothing'

Updated: February 17, 2011, 9:50 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

The beleaguered owners of the New York Mets received a show of support Tuesday from none other than convicted swindler Bernard Madoff.

In a prison interview, Madoff told The New York Times that team owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz had no knowledge he was operating a Ponzi scheme.

"They knew nothing," Madoff told the newspaper. "They knew nothing."

Trustee Irving Picard is seeking to recover as much as $1 billion from Mets ownership based on the premise they knew, or should have known, Madoff was perpetrating a fraud.

Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo has been appointed a mediator in the lawsuit, which was filed in December in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Picard seeks $300 million in what he has labeled "fictitious profits" from Mets owners -- allegedly money the family withdrew over the principal they invested in certain accounts. The other $700 million is alleged principal Picard asserts should be forfeited because the Wilpons allegedly knew, or should have known, a fraud was taking place.

Madoff did tell The Times in a two-hour interview in a prison visiting room Tuesday that he believed banks were complicit in his fraud.

"They had to know," Madoff told the newspaper. "But the attitude was sort of, 'If you're doing something wrong, we don't want to know.'"

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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