Thursday, February 23, 2012
Judge tosses witnesses, considers motions
By Adam Rubin
Inside his federal courtroom in lower Manhattan late Thursday afternoon, the judge presiding over the $386 million clawback lawsuit against Mets owner Fred Wilpon and family struck three expert witnesses from testifying.
The judge also said he would rule by March 5 on motions previously filed by the Wilpons' attorneys and the trustee trying to recover funds for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, according to Howard Megdal (@howardmegdal) and the Times' Richard Sandomir (@RichSandomir).
Judge Jed S. Rakoff banned three expert witnesses -- two on the trustee's side, one of the defense side (the coincidentally named John Maine).
Rakoff pledged to rule within 11 days whether to toss the case -- which the Wilpons' attorneys have requested -- or to award the trustee $83 million even before the March 19 trial is scheduled to begin.
The trustee claims as a matter of law he is entitled to that sum -- the profit from the immediate two years before Madoff's arrest. He then wants to proceed with the jury trial in an attempt to prove "willful blindness" by the Wilpons with respect to the Ponzi scheme and therefore claim an additional $303 million in principal.