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In Madoff case, Mets' owners will shoulder burden of proof

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer
Fred and Jeff WilponFred Wilpon and Saul Katz, increasingly broke and compromised owners of the New YorkMets, will be tasked with proving their innocence in an upcoming Bernie Madoff-related jury trial, the New York Times reports. The plaintiff, in this instance the trustee for Madoff's victims, alleges that the Mets' owners "engaged in illegal activity" and is seeking more than $300 million in damages.

On Wednesday, federal judge Jed S. Rykoff ruled that the “burden of proving, by a preponderance of evidence” rests on Wilpon and Katz. In the words of the Times's Richard Sandomir: "To establish that they were not willfully blind, the Mets' owners will have to show that they saw no evidence that Madoff might have been committing a fraud — as they have argued in their court papers — did not purposely ignore it, or failed to appreciate it if they did see it."

And now comes occasion to use one of the Internet's great acronyms: IANALB. IANALB, this seems like at least a mild setback for the defense. Indeed, the New York Daily News quotes one Stuart Slotnik, who is a real-life lawyer with a briefcase and everything, as saying Judge Rykoff's ruling puts Wilpon and Katz in "a bad position." Slotnik also says it's still possible the two sides will settle before the jury trial begins on Monday.

Mets fans, of course, will be rooting for the outcome that most swiftly leads to new ownership.
 
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