Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 17:17 UK

Pop mogul gets 25 years for fraud

Lou Pearlman
Lou Pearlman has forfeited four cars to help repay victims

Boy band mogul Lou Pearlman, who created the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for a $300m (153m) fraud.

Pearlman swindled family, friends, investors and banks by enticing them to put money into two fake companies for 20 years. He pleaded guilty in March.

As part of a plea agreement, he pledged to help prosecute his accomplices.

Judge G Kendall Sharp said he would reduce the term by one month for every $1m (0.5m) he gave back to victims.

The sympathy factor doesn't run high with the court
Judge G Kendall Sharp

Prosecutors counted at least 250 individual victims who lost a total of $200m (102m), plus 10 financial institutions that lost $100m (51m).

The judge held up letters in the Florida court from people who Pearlman defrauded.

They included "his family, his close friends and people in their 70s and 80s who have lost their life savings", the judge said.

"So the sympathy factor doesn't run high with the court," he added.

Backstreet Boys
Pearlman was behind boy bands including the Backstreet Boys

Pearlman had admitted persuading people to invest millions of dollars in two companies that existed "only on paper".

In a statement, Pearlman said: "Over the past nine months since my arrest, I've come to realise the harm that's been done. I'm truly sorry and I apologise for what's happened."

Pearlman unsuccessfully tried to delay sentencing while he launched his current boy band US5 - already successful in parts of Europe - in the US and Asia.

He said money made by the band could be used to repay people he had swindled.

Pearlman has also agreed to forfeit four cars, including a 2004 Rolls Royce Phantom.

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