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Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff

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�The sentencing process for convicted swindler Bernie Madoff is underway in New York.Several hundred spectators are on�hand.

At least 10 victims are speaking in court.

Prosecutors have called for a�sentence of 150 years for the 71-year-old former financier to guarantee that he will not be freed, the Associated Press reports.Madoff''s lawyer is asking for a 12-year�sentence, but tells the court that�Madoff�"expects to live out his years in prison."At the hearing, Madoff �tells the court that "I dug myself deeper into a hole" as the fraud scheme progressed.Update at 11:31 a.m.

ET: CNN reports that Madoff read a statement in court.

Among the excerpts:--�"I cannot offer you an excuse for my behavior, how can you excuse betraying thousands of investors."--"I don't ask for any forgiveness.

I did not intend to do any harm, but I did a great deal of harm.

I made an error of judgment.

I could not accept the fact that for once in my life I failed.

-- "I left a legacy of shame."Update at 11:35 a.m.

ET: CNN also says that Madoff, at a dramatic moment, turned and faced the victims who had gathered in the courtroom.�"I turn to face you.

I know this will not help.

I am sorry."Update at 1:37 a.m.

ET:�Madoff has been sentenced to 150 years in prison for his multibillion-dollar fraud scheme, the Associated Press reports.

Update at 11:59� a.m.

ET:� Applause broke out in the courtroom after U.S.

District Court Judge Denny Chin announced the sentence, the AP reports.

In giving Madoff the maximum 150 years in prison, Chinn rejected appeals by Madoff's lawyer for leniency."Here the message must be sent that Mr.

Madoff's crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of manipulation of the system is not just a bloodless crime that takes place on paper, but one instead that takes a staggering toll," Chin said.The judge called the estimate that Madoff has cost his victims more than $13 billion "conservative" because it did not include money from feeder funds, the AP reports."Objectively speaking, the fraud here was staggering," Chin said.�Earlier, some of the victims were allowed to address the court.

�"He stole from the rich.

He stole from the poor.

He stole from the in-between.

He had no values," said Tom Fitzmaurice, one of the victims.

"He cheated his victims out of their money so he and his wife Ruth could live a life of luxury beyond belief."Another, Carla Hirshhorn, told the court: "Life has been a living hell.

It feels like the nightmare we can't wake from."Update at 3:01 p.m.

ET: Click here to read the FBI's official announcement on the sentencing.(Artist's sketch of Madoff's appearance in court via Reuters)
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