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Monday, February 21, 2011

Could Mets Owners Get Indicted in Madoff Mess?

A new report in today's New York Times indicates that New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz operated an investment conduit for Bernard Madoff, searching for and selecting less sophisticated investors -- presumably easier to deceive -- for which secrecy and the agreement to ask no questions were requirements to be invited to invest.

If such allegations can be sustained, one might wonder whether criminal exposure -- meaning criminal prosecution -- could result from such activities.  It is not hard to see the potential for a criminal conspiracy charge against Wilpon, Katz or any of an assorted group of associates who did participate in the alleged activities.  Given the magnitude of the monetary losses in the Madoff fraud, the federal sentencing guidelines (which are now advisory but still largely followed) suggest major jail time could be in the offing.

The stakes for the Mets' owners are certainly very high; if my theory is correct, their freedom could be at stake.  The public veneer of stiff upper lips may conceal the very harsh reality: the specter of criminal prosecution for complicity in the investment fraud of all time, for which participation (if proven) could result in effective lifetime sentences for conspirators.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who handles crisis management, litigation stress management and mental strength training for people who are sued, investigated or prosecuted.  Mr. Dixon is available for further comment or consultation at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.

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