NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - A federal judge sentenced Bernard Madoff, the convicted mastermind of the largest and most sweeping Ponzi scheme ever, to the maximum sentence of 150 years in federal court Monday.
Judge Denny Chin of U.S. District Court in New York announced the sentence just moments after Madoff apologized to his victims.
Chin, who called Madoff's crimes "extraordinarily evil," said the maximum sentence was important for deterrence, and also for the victims, many of whom erupted into applause after the judge announced the sentence. Many hugged and some of them broke down in tears.
Shortly before he received his sentence, Madoff offered an apology.
"I live in a tormented state for all the pain and suffering I created," he said. "I left a legacy of shame. It is something I will live with for the rest of my life."
Turning to face some of his victims, Madoff addressed them directly: "Saying I'm sorry is not enough. I turn to face you. I know it will not help. I'm sorry."