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Wilpon Says Madoff May Cost Mets, Sports Illustrated Says

May 24 (Bloomberg) -- New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon says the $1 billion lawsuit filed by Irving Picard on behalf of people who lost money in the Bernard Madoff scandal may cost him ownership of the team, Sports Illustrated reported.

Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo is acting as mediator between Picard and Wilpon, who says he is willing to negotiate a settlement for the $295 million in fictitious profits from his account with Madoff but not the $700 million he and his partners invested in the six years before the financier was arrested, the magazine said, quoting from an interview with the team owner.

Amanda Remus, a spokeswoman for Picard’s firm, Baker & Hostetler LLP, said the firm declined to comment.

Wilpon told Sports Illustrated that investments his group, Sterling Partners, made with Madoff returned 10 to 12 percent and he was convinced that it was legitimate.

Wilpon is seeking to sell between 25 percent and 49 percent of the Major League Baseball team, which was valued by Forbes magazine at $858 million. Picard has said Wilpon and his partners should have known about the fraud given “red flags” and should have investigated the arrangement more. He is seeking as much as $1 billion in what he says are illegitimate profits.

To contact the reporter on this story: Curtis Eichelberger in Washington at ceichelberge@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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