From the AP
NEW YORK -- The owners of the New York Mets should be held accountable
for letting their workers put more than $16 million in 401(k) assets
into accounts controlled by jailed financier Bernard Madoff, a widow
said in a lawsuit filed Friday.
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan was brought against
Sterling Equities Associates, which owns the Mets, and also named Fred
Wilpon, the Mets chief executive officer and principle owner.
Sterling Equities and several of its top executives should
have known that Madoff was carrying out a massive Ponzi scheme that cost
thousands of investors billions of dollars, the lawsuit said. Madoff,
72, revealed the fraud in December 2008, pleaded guilty to fraud charges
and is serving a 150-year prison sentence.
Sterling said in a statement Friday that the complaint has no merit,
adding that its 401(k) plan and participants in the plan "were among the
many victims of the Madoff fraud."
Sterling said the 401(k) plan filed a claim for its losses with the
Securities Investors Protection Corp. or SIPC, which is authorized by
Congress to guarantee brokerage accounts for a maximum $500,000, and
assisted 401(k) participants with filing individual claims.
The court-appointed trustee who is recovering Madoff money for
investors has said the Mets profited by nearly $48 million from their
roughly $523 million in investments with Madoff.
The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, said its plaintiff,
Elyse S. Goldweber, was the beneficiary of the 401(k) plan built by her
late husband, David A. Sloss. It said the majority of $280,420 in her
husband's retirement plan was directly invested with Madoff "and has now
been wiped out."
A statement sent March 31 said that she should not rely on the stated
balance in the retirement account "in light of the reported theft by
Madoff," the lawsuit said. The actual account balance cannot be
determined, the lawsuit quoted the statement as saying.
The retirement fund had $16.2 million of its $17.6 million in assets,
or 92 percent, invested with Madoff, the lawsuit said. It did not say
how many employees or former employees were affected.
The lawsuit particularly took aim at statements by Wilpon that he
and his business were not seriously harmed by the Madoff scandal.
"While defendant Wilpon has been quoted as claiming that he and his
business family are `fine,' his loyal employees (many of whom had
previously been laid off) have lost their retirement savings," the
lawsuit said. It added that an insurance policy does not come close to
covering the losses.
"As a result of their massive exposure to Madoff, plaintiff and other
class members have lost the majority of their retirement savings," the
Investigators who are still trying to identify and collect Madoff
assets for investors say the financier lost nearly all of the $20
billion invested with him even though he claimed in statements mailed to
4,800 account holders in 2008 that their investments were worth $68