Jury To Hear Madoff Trustee’s Suit Against Mets Owners

Nov 28 2011 | 9:55am ET

Madoff bankruptcy trustee Irving Picard will get to make his case against the owners of the New York Mets before a jury.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled Wednesday in Manhattan that the trustee has the constitutional right to have a jury hear his $386 million lawsuit against the Mets owners, including Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz.

In so ruling, Rakoff rejected the Mets owners’ claim that Picard had no right to a jury trial because he, like Madoff's firm itself, could not bring fraudulent transfer claims, reports Reuters.

"This confuses the right to a jury trial with a right to bring a claim," Rakoff wrote. "(Madoff's firm) might well be barred from bringing fraudulent conveyance claims on the facts of this case; but if it could bring such claims, it would have a right to a jury trial on those claims."

Picard accuses the Mets owners of fraudulently taking money out of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, the investment company run by convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.

Rakoff set March 19, 2012 as the trial date.

The $386 million suit is all that remains of Picard’s original demand for $1 billion from the Mets owners, whom he claimed "willfully blinded themselves" to Madoff's fraud. Rakoff earlier threw out nine of Picard’s 11 claims on the grounds that the trustee could attempt to recover “fictitious” profits and principal in only the last two years of the Ponzi scheme, not the last six years as Picard had sought.

The Mets owners have denied Picard’s accusations.


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