Former investment manager Bernard Madoff was sentenced to the maximum term of 150 years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme estimated to have totaled $65 billion.

Madoff’s lawyer had asked Judge Denny Chin to hand down only a 12-year sentence for the 71-year-old financier, a former chairman of the Nasdaq stock market. But Chin brushed aside the request. “Objectively speaking, the fraud here was staggering,” he said, according to The New York Times. “It spanned more than 20 years.”

One of Madoff’s victims told the court at the 90-minute sentencing hearing about how she had been reduced to scavenging through dumpsters for food and for bottles to redeem for their nickel deposits.

Madoff apologized to his victims at the 90-minute hearing. “I’m responsible for a great deal of suffering and pain, I understand that,” he said. “I live in a tormented state now, knowing all of the pain and suffering that I’ve created. I’ve left a legacy of shame, as some of my victims have pointed out, to my family and my grandchildren.”

Prosecutors argued that Madoff should receive the maximum sentence because of the unprecedented size of the Ponzi scheme. Former federal prosecutor William Devaney, currently a partner with the law firm Venable LLP, agreed. “As even a 20-year sentence would equate to an effective life sentence for the 71-year-old Madoff, I think the judge wanted to put an exclamation point on the severity of the offense and its impact on the victims,” he said. “Moreover, this sentence demonstrates that regardless of your age, it is possible to receive a life sentence for a white-collar crime — and that is a powerful deterrent.”

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