At The End of Milken's Junk-Food Chain

Meet Philip Ruckdeschel, 68, a disabled mechanic who lives with his wife, his 78-year-old mother-in-law and three children in Sloansville, N.Y. (pop. 200). In 1986, Ruckdeschel handed his family's savings, roughly $150,000, to Joseph Ventura, a sales rep from First Investors Corp., one of the country's largest managers of junk-bond mutual funds. Four years later, Ruckdeschel estimates his total losses at $75,000 but doesn't know the exact figure because at each sales call, Ventura would toss out the old records. "He never said anything about any risk -- just that if we needed retirement income, this was the way to do...

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