Self-help author James Arthur Ray cries as he asks for forgiveness from the families of his victims during his sentencing at Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott, Ariz., Friday, Nov. 18, 2011.
The self-help author convicted of negligent homicide has been sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of more than $57,000.
Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow handed down the sentence to James Arthur Ray on Friday in a central Arizona courtroom.
Earlier that morning Ray stood before the families of three people who died in a sweat lodge ceremony he led and begged for forgiveness.
James Arthur Ray said Friday during his sentencing hearing that he would have stopped the ceremony had he known people were dying or in distress. He took full responsibility for the pain and anguish he says he caused the families of Kirby Brown, James Shore and Liz Neuman.
Ray led dozens of people in the ceremony near Sedona in 2009. He was convicted on a trio of negligent homicide counts earlier this year. He asked a judge to grant him probation so he could care for ailing parents and rebuild his life.
The families of three people who participated in an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony tearfully pleaded with a judge Friday to give the self-help author convicted in their deaths the maximum sentence.
Brown's mother urged Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow to take Ray off the self-help market to ensure no one else is harmed.
The 38-year-old Brown, of Westtown, N.Y.; 40-year-old Shore, of Milwaukee; and 49-year-old Neuman of Prior Lake, Minn., were overcome by the heat in the sweat lodge more than two years ago.
Ray's supporters and defense team say probation is best for the man whose teachings have bettered people's lives.
Copyright NBC San Diego / Associated Press