The sentence was given to Nimionwantue "Mike" Idahor by U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller.
Police arrested Idahor Dec.19 after he arrived at Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport on a flight from Nigeria. He immediately confessed to his involvement in the scheme, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday.
Idahor began working with a Chicago distributor in 2009, helping smuggle the $100 bills, sewn into hats, into the United States, investigators said.
U.S. Secret Service Agent Dave LaMonte, tipped off to the activities, posed online as an American willing to help Idahor get his student visa and enroll him at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Idahor begged the court for mercy at his sentencing hearing Thursday, saying he was trying to make money to help his father, who was allegedly paralyzed by a stroke, the newspaper reported.
"I said to my dad, I will do what I can so he doesn't die wretched," Idahor said in his statement to the court.
"While the court accepts your apology, make no mistake about it: You, like the court, didn't fall off the turnip wagon," the judge said.
Workers accuse National Zoo of animal mismanagement
Ohio crash that killed two caught on camera [VIDEO]