Monday a federal court judge in New York ruled that Sterling Partners, the company that owns and operates the New York Mets and SNY under the direct auspicies of the Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz families, must pay $83 million to the Ponzi victims of Bernie Madoff. The judge also reaffirmed a March 19, 2012 trial date to determine if the Wilpon and Katz families - and the Mets - owe the victims of Madoff another $303 million.
(Wilpon and Katz’s family and friends fed at Madoff-backed Mets “profits” trough)
At trial the trustee of the Madoff victims Irving Picard will be armed with Sterling company documents that include innumerable financial statements and internal communications that show how Madoff’s fictitious investment returns - and the borrowing leverage from its relationship to Madoff - was integral to a business fronted by the brand and financial equity of the Mets.
For example, the 2001 financial statements from companies run by Wilpon and Katz reveal that they budgeted a 14% rate of future return from their current Madoff invesments - which would earn an income of $34 million the following year. At the time that projected income by Wilpon and Katz - from their own company documents in 2001 - accounted for 59% of Sterling’s entire projected total operating cash flow for the year for all their businesses, and 88% of all income generated from liquid assets.
In addition to direct income from “profits” provided by the victims of Madoff’s crimes, at the time of the Madoff bust in 2008 the companies run by Wilpon and Katz had accumulated $237 million from loans backed by, again, the stolen liquidity of Bernie Madoff.
Madoff was so critical to the cash flow and leveraging of the Mets and other Sterling companies that the operator of the largest Ponzi in history had his own permanent line item, “Madoff”, to be discussed at twice-weekly meetings between Wilpon, Katz and other company officials at Sterling.
Wilpon and Katz were so close to the biggest Ponzi schemer in history that Madoff went so far to classify all Sterling accounts with a special “KW” prefix signifying “Katz” and “Wilpon”. At the time of Madoff’s arrest, Sterling had opened 483 accounts with Madoff for the family, friends and businesses run by Wilpon and Katz - including all of the entities involved with the operation of Mets.
The Wilpon and Katz families were so invested in the financial fortunes of companies funded and leveraged by Madoff that one Bank of America executive called their business operation - according to federal court documents - “a family wealth office.“
And while the Wilpon and Katz families have completely denied any knowledge of the Madoff Ponzi, their behavior suggests otherwise.
In one such case Mets Board of Directors member and Sterling “Partner” David Katz, son of family patriarch and Wilpon partner Saul Katz, said in a sworn deposition in 2010 that employees of the company run by Wilpon and his father “weren’t supposed to tell anyone you were invested (with Madoff.)“
Katz added that because the companies run by Wilpon and his father had so many accounts with Madoff, eventually close to 500, “it was silly to try” to keep their deep financial ties with Madoff a secret from the public.
Beginning March 19 in New York, expect many more of Wilpon and Katz’s family secrets about Bernie Madoff to be revealed to the public in federal court.