Debra Villegas and Melissa Lewis: The Lucy and Ethel of Rothstein's Firm
Debra Villegas (left), attorney Christina Ketterman, and Melissa Lewis.
As speculation swirls about a possible plea deal for Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's assistant, Debra Villegas, the Juice has obtained court documents that reveal more about Villegas' friendship with Melissa Britt Lewis.
Lewis, an attorney with Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, was found strangled and murdered two years ago. Debra's estranged husband, Tony Villegas, has been charged in her death. He pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and is in the Broward County Jail awaiting trial.
When Villegas was arrested, investigators said he was jealous of Melissa's closeness with Debra. Whether or not that's true, one thing is certain: Debra and
Melissa had an extraordinary friendship.
"They ate lunch together every day; they talked every day. Melissa would take her [Debra's] kids to do stuff, to Disney World," Melissa's friend, Tonja Coleman, told Plantation police officers in a sworn interview in March 2008. "I think that she was really almost like a mother hen with Debra and her children."
Debra told police that she and Melissa were so close that they called themselves Lucy and Ethel. They vacationed together and texted each other every night before bed. Melissa left Rothstein's firm at one point but returned to work there after she learned that Debra had cancer, Coleman said. The pair's loyalty to each other ran deep.
"Other than my children, I love Lucy more than I love my parents, more than I love anybody," Debra Villegas told police in a sworn interview. "I grew up very hard in rural Texas, and my parents were not very good parents. She's the only person in my whole life [who] has actually loved me and done for me and been good to me."
"And I, I wish I could have been in that car that night because I would give my life for her today."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.