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WNBC, NYT Seek Access To Bankruptcy Files In Madoff Case, Involving New York Mets

NBC Universal's WNBC-TV New York and The New York Times Friday signaled to a bankruptcy court that they would be seeking access to sealed files in the case, including the owners of the New York Mets, versus investment scammer Bernie Madoff.

According to a copy of the filing posted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, they argue that all the exhibits and sealed documents should be open to public examination.
"[T]his sordid financial episode of unprecedented magnitude undisputedly remains a subject of enormous interest," they said. The news organizations said the issue was whether the public would be privy to the allegations and claims against Madoff were. He bilked his clients out of billions of dollars.

There is a heightened interest in the case that goes beyond the status of Mets owners to their employment of hundreds of people and the fact that they received public financing for a new stadium. Journalists, they said, are the proxies for that public.

Irving Picard, the trustee for victims in the infamous Ponzi scheme, is seeking to reclaim assets for those defrauded by Madoff. In December, he sued Mets owner Fred Wilpon and his Sterling Equities for profits they made

from Madoff.

The Wilpon family owns the Major League Baseball franchise through Sterling Equities. On Friday, chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon and his son and COO Jeff Wilpon sent a letter to Mets season ticketholders indicating that "we are engaged in discussions to settle a lawsuit brought against us and other Sterling partners and members of our families by the Trustee in the Madoff bankruptcy."

Noting the "uncertainty created by this lawsuit, and to provide additional assurance that the New York Mets will continue to have the necessary resources to fully compete and win," the Wilpons wrote that "we are looking at a number of potential options including the addition of one or more strategic partners. To explore this, we have retained Steve Greenberg, a Managing Director at Allen & Company, as our advisor."

Published reports indicate that the Wilpons are looking to sell a 20% to 25% percent stake in the team. However, the sale is strictly for the club and doesn't pertain to regional sports network, SNY, or Citifield. In addition to Sterling Equities, Time Warner Cable and Comcast, which manages SNY, have stakes in the RSN.