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Newsday - King Pans Picard for Targeting Mets Owners

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By Anthony Destefano

Never shy about speaking his mind, Rep. Peter King on Friday blasted the trustee in the Bernard Madoff case for going after the owners of the New York Mets.

In a morning segment on WFAN, King (R-Seaford) accused trustee Irving Picard of distorting evidence and character assassination for the way he is pursuing the Wilpon family and partners.

"I think Picard has abused his power and the media has sort of fallen for it," said King, a high-ranking Republican who says he is a friend of Fred Wilpon and that Wilpon has donated to his campaign over the years.

"I think the law is on Wilpon's side," King said, later calling Picard's tactics "character assassination."

During his interview with hosts Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason, King also criticized Picard's law firm for earning hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees, which he said is being paid by the Securities Investor Protection Corp., the nonprofit body that compensates defrauded customers and is investigating the Madoff case.

King pushed the Wilpon view that the Mets owners, including Saul Katz and partners, lost up to $500 million with Madoff and that they should be paid that amount because it is reflected on their last account statements from the swindler.

Picard has sued the Wilpon family, Katz and others for up to $1 billion, claiming they received $300 in profits over the years from Madoff -- funds stolen from other investors in the Ponzi scheme. Picard has alleged that as sophisticated investors, the Wilpons knew or should have known Madoff was running a scam.

A spokesman for Picard couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

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