January 15, 2010, 8:33 AM EST
A New Jersey man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $100 million in restitution for masterminding what a judge described as one of the biggest real estate frauds in state history.
Sixty-one year-old Wayne Puff of Old Bridge pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud. He admitted using his company, New Jersey Affordable Homes Corp., to lure real estate investors with promises of high returns.
Prosecutors say it was a Ponzi scheme, using money from new investors to pay earlier ones.
Hundreds of individuals and mortgage lenders were victimized.
Puff read a statement apologizing to investors, and turned to face several of them sitting in the Newark federal courtroom Thursday.
Ten co-conspirators have pleaded guilty.