The brother of imprisoned financier Bernard Madoff has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for crimes committed in the shadow of his notorious sibling by a judge who said she disbelieved his claims that he did not know about the epic fraud.
Peter Madoff, 67, had agreed when he pleaded guilty in June to serve the maximum sentence allowable to the charges of conspiracy and falsifying the books and records of an investment adviser.
He follows to prison his 74-year-old brother, who is serving a 150-year sentence after admitting he created a fraud so large decades ago that thousands of people lost 20 billion dollars (£12.3 billion).
In New York, US District Judge Laura Swain urged Peter Madoff to tell the truth even now. She said Madoff, wearing a smart charcoal suit, was "frankly not believable" when he claimed at his plea that he only learned of the fraud when his brother revealed it to him just before he surrendered to authorities.
Peter Madoff spoke briefly on Thursday and less emotionally than in June, saying: "I am deeply ashamed of my conduct and have tried to atone by pleading guilty and have agreed to forfeit all of my present and future assets." He added: "I am profoundly sorry that my failures let many people down, including my loved ones."
Assistant US Attorney Lisa Baroni said it would have been easy for Peter Madoff to blow the whistle if he had even minimally carried out his duties. Instead, she said, he even teamed up with his brother to distribute the remaining 300 million dollars in the company's accounts to family, friends and favoured clients before the FBI arrested his brother.
The sentencing comes four years and a week after Bernard Madoff first revealed the fraud, which occurred as the former Nasdaq stock exchange chairman built a reputation for delivering unparalleled investment results, even in bad times.
The revelation came only days after the business sent out statements that made clients think their investments had grown to a total of more than 65 billion dollars.
Peter Madoff said at his plea that he had no idea his brother was running a massive Ponzi - pyramid - scheme, paying off long-time clients at times with money from newer investors. "My family was torn apart as a result of my brother's atrocious conduct," he said. "I was reviled by strangers as well as friends who assumed that I knew about the Ponzi scheme."
As part of a forfeiture agreement, Peter Madoff's wife Marion and daughter Shana must forfeit nearly all of their assets. The US government said those assets and assets that will be forfeited by other family members include several homes, a Ferrari and more than 10 million dollars in cash and securities. His wife will be left with 771,733 dollars.