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N.Y. Mets owners settle with Madoff trustee for $162 million (+video)

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"In a sense, we're now partners," David J. Sheehan, the lawyer for trustee Irving Picard, said outside court as he described how the Mets owners could benefit from the trustee's recovery efforts.

He also said the amount the team owners could afford to pay was "one of the many factors" that were considered as the two sides negotiated a deal in talks that gained momentum last week and reached a conclusion on Friday.

The formal agreement read aloud by Rakoff included a statement by the trustee "that he has reviewed the evidence and will no longer pursue the willful blindness claim against the defendants."

The trial was set to showcase what the trustee said was a conscious decision by the Mets owners to ignore warnings that Madoff was operating a multibillion-dollar fraud over several decades, costing thousands of investors about $20 billion.

Outside court, Wilpon and Katz seemed relieved that they were freed from the accusation. They have always insisted they knew nothing of Madoff's fraud.

"We are not willfully blind," Wilpon said. "We never was. We acted in good faith."

Katz called litigation "negative energy."

"We are very pleased to have this behind us," he said. "We have done everything in good faith. The settlement itself bears that out."

Picard originally sought $1 billion from the owners, putting a dark cloud over the team that led to an effort over the past year to raise money through new investors. The club also has slashed payroll as its revenue has suffered with declining attendance and product sales as the team has struggled on the field.

As he stepped into a car, Wilpon declined to discuss how the settlement might affect the club's efforts to raise additional cash.

"We'll address that," he said.

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