NEW YORK (AP) — The mastermind behind a multimillion-dollar scheme to loot hundreds of corpses and sell bone and tissue for transplants was sentenced Friday to 18 to 54 years in prison after he apologized to the horrified families of the deceased.

"I'm sorry for all the emotional pain I've caused," Michael Mastromarino told a Brooklyn judge in a soft voice before he was led to jail.

Mastromarino, 44, a former oral surgeon who owned New Jersey-based Biomedical Tissue Services, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of enterprise corruption, body stealing and reckless endangerment.

Prosecutors had alleged he was the ringleader of a macabre plot hatched in 2001 to carve up bodies — including that of "Masterpiece Theatre" host Alistair Cooke — without permission or proper medical screening. The body parts were sold around the country for dental implants, knee and hip replacements and other procedures.

Authorities say about 10,000 people received parts supplied by BTS. Some now claim they were infected by the tainted tissue.