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Mets make deal with Madoff trustee

The settlement avoids a civil trial for the club and means they'll have to pay far less than they otherwise might.

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Mets owners Fred Wilpon, right, and Saul Katz speak to reporters after announcing a settlement deal.

Louis Lanzano/AP

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The New York Mets' owners scored an early-season victory Monday, stabilizing the club's financial future in a deal with a trustee for Bernard Madoff's fraud victims that requires them to pay millions less than they might have — and lifts a dark cloud from a team whose dismal play seemed to mirror its misfortune in the owner's box.

Mets CEO Fred Wilpon and team President Saul Katz, co-majority owners, emerged smiling from a Manhattan federal courthouse after a judge announced the agreement, which makes it likely they'll pay much less than the agreed-upon $162 million, if any at all; guarantees they will owe nothing until the end of four years; and averts a high-profile civil trial.

"Now I guess I can smile, maybe I can take a day off, but I can't wait to get back to our businesses, which I love," Wilpon, sporting dark sunglasses, said outside court as he pledged to rejoin the Mets on Tuesday at spring training in Florida. He stood with Katz, who rested his hand on Wilpon's shoulder under a sunny sky.

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After speaking, Wilpon gave a nod to the sagging faith some have had in recent years with owners who seemed mired in accusations that they knew Madoff was up to no good but kept silent because they were making lots of money on their investment.

"Stick with us," he said.

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