Former New York Mets infielder Tim Teufel, currently the organization's Triple-A manager, has gotten entangled in the Bernard Madoff mess.
Teufel, a Mets employee who invested with Madoff because of his association with the Wilpon family, which owns the team, is being sued by trustee Irving Picard in the same U.S. Bankruptcy Court where Mets ownership faces a $1 billion lawsuit for allegedly profiting from the Ponzi scheme, according to court records.
The trustee seeks to recover $1,232,463 in "fictitious profits" -- money allegedly withdrawn over principal invested -- from Teufel for two accounts owned by his family.
Unlike the lawsuit against Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and team president Saul Katz, the suit against Teufel merely attempts to recover money alleged to have been withdrawn over principal. It does not claim Teufel knew, or should have known, about the fraud.
On Feb. 19, 2010, the Teufel family had been denied a claim made with Picard for losses they alleged to have suffered in the Ponzi scheme when Madoff was arrested.
"I really can't comment in a big way on anything [relating to] my involvement with the Madoff scandal at this point," Teufel said on Saturday morning at the Mets' spring training camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla. "But what I try to do professionally is not bring my personal life into the clubhouse. So I hope you guys can respect that part. I'm here to develop players, help them get to the big leagues. Being able to do the [Triple-A] Buffalo team this year, I'm excited about that, and am thrilled to be a part of something real big here. So I enjoy my job, and my time here with the Mets has been great. I feel for the Wilpon family with what they have to go through. I can certainly relate to their pain and anguish. So I'm here to leave my personal attitude and effects of what has happened in my family's life out of the clubhouse and help develop players."
Fred Wilpon arrived at Mets camp Thursday morning and strongly said his family will be "vindicated" in the $1 billion lawsuit.
"We did not know one iota, one thing about Madoff's fraud," he said. "We didn't do anything wrong. If anything, we trusted a friend for a very long time. And as I told you a few months ago, that betrayal is very difficult for me because this was a man, who, we were friends for 35 years and investors for 25 years.
"Having said that, we will be vindicated. What you have been writing about are allegations. They are allegations made by the trustee. Allegations are not fact. We have to now come back and tell you what our facts are, based upon facts and based upon the law. And our lawyers are doing that and they will do that. And we will be vindicated. I can't give you the timetable. That depends on issues beyond our control.
"I cannot tell you how difficult and painful the attacks have been on my family -- Saul, Jeff, myself, my grandchildren. The one thing no one ever, ever in 50 years in business questioned was my integrity."
Newsday first reported the suit against Teufel.
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.