NEW YORK -- New York Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon, whose family suffered unspecified losses in convicted felon Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, made his most pointed public statements about that situation Monday, calling the swindle a "total betrayal" he would "go to my grave" regretting.
Wilpon addressed the issue during a news conference at Citi Field to announce the dismissals of general manager Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel. He was joined by family members Jeff Wilpon, his son and the organization's chief operating officer, and team president Saul Katz, his brother-in-law.
The 73-year-old Wilpon also is facing a civil lawsuit from the widow of an employee of his real estate business, Sterling Equities, over lost 401(k) money that the Wilpons unwittingly invested on behalf of their employees in the Ponzi scheme.
"I would say the Madoff issue, certainly for the people in this room that represent Sterling, their [lost] money 'smarts.' There's no question," Wilpon said. "You don't like to lose money that is just stolen from you. But the betrayal is something I'll never, ever forget. I'll go to my grave in that one, as will Saul and Jeff and the rest of our partners. That was a total betrayal of us. We were investors for something like 25 years."
Still, Wilpon continued to insist the operation of the Mets is not affected by the lost investments.
"So I'm not minimizing the money, but it was only one part of our business and took some liquidity away," Wilpon said. "But that's not the part of the business that was running the shop.
"We have several other parts of our business," he continued. "We have several other kinds of companies, and all are doing either reasonably well or very well. The real estate business is down generally, but ours is pretty darn good -- the development business as well, and some of the other businesses."
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.