Lou Pearlman

Rena Durham/ZUMAPress.com

First Lou Pearlman cooked the books. Now one is being thrown back in his face.

The boy-band mastermind was sentenced Wednesday in Orlando to 25 years in federal prison for bilking investors and banks out of nearly $300 million by selling worthless stock in a bogus company and falsifying numerous financial statements.

"I'm truly sorry, your honor, to all the people who have been hurt and victimized by my actions," Pearlman, who pieced together the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync in the 1990s, said in a statement.

"Over the past nine months since my arrest I've come to realize the harm that has been done. I now want to do whatever I can to help resolve that harm."

To avoid more serious charges, the disgraced entrepreneur pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and single counts of money laundering and making a false claim in a bankruptcy filing and agreed to help anyone involved—federal and state regulatory agencies, the FBI, the IRS, banks, whomever—track down his unnamed coconspirators and as much of the money as possible.

Senior U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp told Pearlman he'll shave a month off his sentence for every $1 million he recovers.

"I'm going to give you the keys to your jail cell," Sharp said in court today.

Meaning, Pearlman can skip his 300 months in prison altogether if he can come up with the whole $300 million right away.

"I think truly, in Mr. Pearlman's mind, he always meant to make good on his obligations," defense attorney Fletcher Peacock said today in arguing for more lenient terms. "Mr. Pearlman did live large, if you will, but judge, he was in the entertainment business."

But the judge seemed a little more concerned with the investors' plight than Pearlman's.

"It turns out they're all his family, close friends and people in their 80s who have lost their life savings," Sharp said.

"The sympathy factor just doesn't run very high with the court."

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