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Madoff New York Times Interview: Wilpons, Mets "Knew Nothing" of Ponzi Scheme

Bernie Madoff and Fred Wilpon (Getty Images/Stephen Chernin/Andrew Burton)
Madoff: Wilpons, Mets "Knew Nothing" of Ponzi Scheme
Bernie Madoff and Fred Wilpon (Getty Images/Stephen Chernin/Andrew Burton)

(CBS/WCBS/AP) Disgraced Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff said in an interview published online Tuesday that Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz "knew nothing" about his scheme to fleece victims out of billions of dollars.

"They knew nothing," he said in his first interview for publication since his 2008 arrest.

CBS affiliate WCBS reports that a court-appointed trustee is seeking to recover money on behalf of Madoff's victims in a lawsuit filed against the Mets' owners, alleging the Wilpons and Katz should have suspected something wrong in his operation for years.

While the Wilpons claim they were victims who lost money in the Madoff swindle, Irving Picard says they should have heeded warnings that Madoff's claimed profits were too good to be true.

Last week, a federal bankruptcy judge in Manhattan appointed former New York Governor Mario Cuomo to serve as a mediator in the legal dispute.

The Wilpons announced in January that they would explore a partial sale of the franchise due to looming losses from the case.

An influx of cash from Donald Trump could help. The New York real estate owner with a flair for publicity said Tuesday he wants to help the Wilpons.

"I hope that it works out well for the Wilpons because they're friends of mine," Trump said Tuesday during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "If they ever needed help, I'd be there to help them. If I could help, I'd love to help them."

Madoff spoke to the New York Times via e-mail and during a private two-hour interview at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, N.C., where he's serving a 150-year sentence. The reporter who conducted the interviews, Diana B. Henriques, is writing a book about the Madoff scandal.

Madoff, who's 72, also touched on subjects including the effect of his crimes on his family, his son Mark Madoff's suicide on Dec. 11 and the effort to recover money for his victims.

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF BERNIE MADOFF ON CRIMESIDER