Mets owner Fred Wilpon filed papers with the Federal District Court in Manhattan attempting to avoid a jury trial against Irving Picard, the trustee for the Madoff victims. According to a report in the NY Times on Friday, the issue at hand is that the two remaining charges against Wilpon are generated from bankruptcy law according to Wilpon’s legal team. Generally, a bankruptcy case wouldn’t contain a jury component. The judge would render verdicts.
Wilpon and his legal team were emboldened by Judge Jed Rakoff dismissing nine of the eleven charges against Wilpon last month. So they want the same judge to render a verdict during a trial for the remaining two charges.
Picard filed a motion claiming that the victims of fraud in this case are entitled to a jury trial against the alleged perpetrators of fraud like Wilpon and his brother-in-law Saul Katz.
The Madoff fraud case is a stench that’s been hanging over the Mets for far too long. This is going to be the second offseason that the Mets have had to walk a financial tightrope when negotiating with free agents. Although the highest potential verdict against Wilpon in now $386 million instead of $1 billion, it still inhibits the Mets ability to re-sign Jose Reyes and negotiate with other free agents.
I’ve heard so many Mets fans tell me that they wish Wilpon would sell the team and go away. It’s hard to argue that point when the Mets are in the midst of one of the darkest periods in team history. At least the early 1960’s Mets had the excuse that they were an expansion team. The current crop of “stars” like Jason Bay are playing in a brand new park and still can’t draw a decent crowd. It’s a sad state of affairs for this team.