NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mario Cuomo, the former New York governor, was named as mediator in the $1 billion legal battle between the owners of the New York Mets baseball team and the trustee for victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland appointed Cuomo, the father of current New York governor Andrew Cuomo, late Thursday afternoon, saying the dispute presented “special issues” that required “an appropriately experienced mediator.”
Irving Picard, the trustee, is seeking to recover roughly $300 million of “fictitious” profits as well as principal from Sterling Equities Inc, which controls the Mets, and its officials including Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz.
The trustee contends that the team owners long ignored red flags about Madoff’s estimated $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Wilpon and Katz have maintained that they too were Madoff victims.
Picard and the Mets principals had been in talks about a settlement, but talks broke down after details of the lawsuit, which had been filed under seal in December, leaked. Wilpon has said he may sell part of the team because of the litigation.
Mario Cuomo, 78, was a mediator before serving as New York’s governor from 1983 to 1994. He is now a lawyer at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.
As mediator, Cuomo can try to bring Picard and the Mets principals together, but cannot force them to settle.
The case is Picard v. Katz et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-ap-05287.