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A North Carolina man convicted of running the $40 million Black Diamond Ponzi scheme was sentenced Wednesday to 50 years in prison for what prosecutors called “the worst financial crime in this district in memory.”

Keith Simmons, 47, didn’t react while U.S. Chief District Judge Robert Conrad read the sentence in a quiet courtroom. The Black Diamond scheme had more than 400 victims, prosecutors said, many of them elderly. Nearly 100 were more than 75 years old, and many lost their entire life savings.

Prosecutors said Simmons told investors he was putting their money in a foreign currency trading program with annual returns as high as 137.4 percent in 2007. In reality, he invested none of the money and spent millions on real estate near his Ashe County home, traveling on private jets and furnishing “lavish love condominiums.”

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