The Wilpons are not the only members of the Mets' organization forced to defend their financial ties to Bernard Madoff in court. Former Mets second baseman Tim Teufel, currently the manager of the team's Triple-A Buffalo affiliate, is being sued for $1.23 million in what special trustee Irving Picard described in court papers as "fictitious profits" gained through investing with Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
According to the complaint against Teufel, which was obtained Friday by Newsday, Picard alleges that Teufel received $1,219,463 "of other people's money" in the six years before Madoff's arrest. It also alleges that Teufel made an additional $13,000 from a second account with Madoff.
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Teufel, at spring training as a Mets instructor, declined to comment specifically about the pending lawsuit. But he addressed his ongoing involvement in the Madoff scandal.
"It's nothing I bring in here," he told Newsday. "This is not the time or the place for anything personal. It's all about the players. I'm a developer. I keep my personal life out of the clubhouse."
A spokeswoman for Picard declined to comment because "this matter is in litigation."
The clawback lawsuit against Teufel was filed Dec. 1, six days before Picard brought forth the suit against the Wilpons and Sterling Equities. That lawsuit is seeking more than $300 million in "fictitious profits" as well as hundreds of millions more because Picard believes the Wilpons "knew or should have known" what Madoff was doing because of their close ties.
According to the lawsuit, Teufel opened his account with Madoff in 1995 through Sterling Equities, whose Great Neck address is listed on the court papers.
Teufel immediately funded the account with more than a million dollars and, in the next 13 years, deposited another $1,516,537 and withdrew $3,466,000, according to a bank statement attached to the lawsuit.
After Madoff was caught in December 2008, Teufel filed paperwork to be included as one of his many victims. Picard denied his claim in a letter to Teufel dated Feb. 19, 2010.
"The amount of money you received in excess of the deposits in your account ($1,219,462.91) was taken from other customers and given to you," according to the letter, which also was included in the complaint.
Teufel, 52, played 11 years in the majors, including parts of six seasons with the Mets. He rejoined the organization as a scout in November 1998 and has been involved on the minor-league level in various coaching positions for all but one year since then. This season will be his first as manager of their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo.
Standing in the Mets' clubhouse at their spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Friday morning, Teufel said he's able to separate his financial situation during the hours he's at work - even though his connection with the Wilpons is what ultimately led him into this spot. He described the Wilpons as "good people."
"I don't put the added pressures of my day, personal grind in life, can't bring it into the clubhouse and players see and coaches hear about it," Teufel said. "You keep it separate. I think that's the proper way of handling it."