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Posted at 05:52 AM ET, 02/17/2011

Fred Wilpon: "We were duped" by Madoff

It feels like I've done nothing but chase fires in these early days of spring training, from the ballyhooed arrival of the Phillies' four aces in Clearwater, to the closing of the Cardinals' window for signing Albert Pujols, to -- today -- the impassioned address to the media by Mets owner Fred Wilpon regarding his ties to the Bernard Madoff scandal. (Who knows? Maybe tomorrow I'll be in Lakeland with the Tigers to chronicle the Miguel Cabrera situation.)

Wilpon was forceful and defiant in denying claims made in a $1 billion lawsuit brought by Irving Picard, the trustee charged with recouping the money lost by the Madoff's victims, that the Wilpon family knew, or should have known, about Madoff's fraudulent investments, and that the family profited from them.

"We will be vindicated," Wilpon said, as the Mets' pitchers and catchers participated in their first workout of the spring. "We did not know one iota, one thing about Madoff's fraud. We didn't do anything wrong. If anything, we trusted [someone who had been] a friend for a long time."

Wilpon refused to discuss the possibility his family could lose the team over the scandal, saying the lawsuit "is not going to go against us," and that selling the team "is not on the table." Wilpon also said the team has turned over some 700,000 "pieces of paper" to Picard's investigators and will cooperate fully in court-ordered mediation to be led by former New York Governor Mario Cuomo.

"We have nothing to hide," Wilpon said.

By  |  05:52 AM ET, 02/17/2011

 
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