The burden of proof was too much.
The New York Times's Richard Sandomir reported Monday morning that Fred Wilpon, majority owner of the Mets, has settled with Bernie Madoff trustee Irving Picard for $162 million. The case, which was to begin today, will not go to trial.
"I am very, very pleased for ourselves and our families. This was really a team effort," Wilpon told reporters outside the courthouse after the settlement was reached. "We are not willfully blind. We acted in good faith."
Picard was seeking $303 million from the Wilpons on behalf of those who were damaged by Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
The Mets were likely done in last week when the judge in the case announced that the burden of proof would lie with the Wilpon family. They claimed all along they had no knowledge of Madoff's Ponzi scheme despite the profits they made and friendship they had. How the ownership could prove they didn't know about the scheme would have been difficult.
The New York Daily News reports the team will be able to defer payments for three years.
"Whenever you have the settlement its the result of a very businesslike -- and that's what this was -- negotiation taking into account both sides' interests," Picard lawyer David Sheehan said. "I think this has all the hallmarks of a good settlement in the sense that nobody came alway absolutely happy with how it came out."
The Mets have been trying to secure revenue through selling minority shares in the team. They've said they want to sell 10 $20 million shares, thereby raising $200 million in capital. The team has announced they are close to completing seven such minority deals.
The settlement likely means the Mets won't have to sell the team, but it will limit their finances.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.