N.Y. Mets owners reach revised deal with Madoff trustee

New York Mets' owners Saul Katz (L) and Fred Wilpon address media outside New York Federal Court March 19, 2012. REUTERS/Allison Joyce

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The owners of the New York Mets baseball team have reached a revised agreement with the trustee seeking to recoup money for the victims of Bernard Madoff’s fraud that gives them more time to pay up to $61 million, the parties announced on Tuesday.

The deal came four years after a group including brothers-in-law Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, the owners of the Mets, reached a settlement to pay a maximum of $162 million as a trial in federal court in Manhattan was set to start in a lawsuit by trustee Irving Picard.

The lawsuit had accused the group of turning a blind eye to the fraud by Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme was uncovered in December 2008, a claim they denied. Wilpon and Katz had invested with Madoff for roughly 25 years. Now 78, Madoff pleaded guilty to fraud in March 2009 and is serving a 150-year prison term.

Picard has recovered or reached agreements to recover roughly $11.14 billion, more than three-fifths of the $17.5 billion of principal he has said customers of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC lost.

Under the original 2012 deal’s formula, the amount owed by Wilpon, Katz and their partners at Sterling Equities was reduced as Picard made payments to victims, which included the settling parties, who had customer claims of $176.6 million.

Picard on Tuesday said that as a result of those payments, the $162 million had been reduced to $61 million, which would have been paid in two installments of $23.3 million this Tuesday and another $37.9 million on June 1, 2017.

Under the revised agreement announced in a joint statement on Tuesday, the Katz-Wilpon parties will pay only $16 million on Tuesday. The rest will be divided into four installments through 2020, with interest payments expected to equal $2.2 million.

Wilpon and Katz also increased personal guarantees to cover the unpaid balances, the parties said.

Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Leslie Adler