NEWARK - A week ago, Roger Peskin was a retired multimillionaire living the good life with his stay-at-home wife and two children in Bethlehem, Pa.
Today, the 65-year-old says he has been ruined because he entrusted his life savings to disgraced Wall Street money manager Bernard Madoff.
Madoff was arrested Thursday for securities fraud in what prosecutors are calling a $50 billion scheme to bilk investors.
Peskin said he and his wife are now looking for work and pondering the possibility of pulling their children, ages 9 and 12, from private school after losing more than $3 million.
"I was retired," Peskin said. "Now I have to think about going back to work at the age of 65, in the middle of a recession."
Peskin, a retired specialty magazine publisher and former New Jersey resident, sold his home in Milford three weeks ago. He invested the proceeds from the sale with Madoff, too.
Peskin described himself as a conservative investor and said he was attracted to Madoff because he was told that Madoff's practices reflected his own investment philosophy. Peskin estimated that he had 95 percent of his savings invested with Madoff.
"Sometimes you just have to say 'No mas, no mas,"' Peskin said Tuesday.
"I can only take so much, and this is the end of everything I've built up the past 35 years," he said. "My life is destroyed - my kids' lives are destroyed."
Madoff is accused of running an elaborate Ponzi scheme - a type of fraud in which high returns are paid to initial investors using money obtained from later investors rather than proceeds generated by profitable investments. It is named after a notorious swindler named Charles Ponzi, who used the scheme extensively in the U.S. in the early 1900s.
Madoff, 70, is free on a $10 million bond. A federal judge on Friday froze the assets of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.
Peskin said the more than $3 million he had invested with Madoff was generating $25,000 a month of income for him before the firm's assets were frozen. The money was enough to provide him with a comfortable lifestyle and to put his children through college, he said. Now, that life is gone.
"I have two small kids to think about and that's what's really killing me," Peskin said. "It's very difficult. We're really struggling with this. Oh my God, I am suffering from depression."