Madoff trustee Irving Picard and the owners of the New York Mets on Monday reached a $162 million settlement for victims of the Bernard Madoff [JURIST news archive] Ponzi scheme, avoiding a trial in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website]. Jury selection was supposed to begin Monday in a trial that would determine whether the owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, were "willfully blind" to the Madoff scheme. The settlement agrees that the "willful blindness" claim will not be pursued and allows the Mets not to pay anything for the next three years with the possibility that the owners will not owe anything [AP report] if their personal claims against the Madoff estate are successful. Judge Jed Rakoff ruled in January that Picard could not appeal a ruling [JURIST report] that precluded them from taking an interlocutory appeal on his earlier judgment throwing out 9 of the 11 claims sought by the plaintiffs. This ruling allowed Picard to pursue only $300 million of the original $1 billion dollar suit.
In July the court approved [JURIST report] the first payouts to Madoff's victims. Picard filed almost 60 lawsuits [JURIST report] for victims of Madoff's fraud in December 2010, including suits against JPMorgan Chase and HSBC. Judge Louis Stanton made Picard the trustee of Bernard L Madoff Securities, LLC in December 2008. Madoff was sentenced [JURIST report] in June 2009 to 150 years in prison for securities fraud stemming from his Ponzi scheme. He pleaded guilty [JURiST report] to 11 counts of securities fraud in March 2009.