Debra Villegas, Scott Rothstein's Right-Hand Woman, May Get Prison Time Cut Short

Debra Villegas (left) and friend, Melissa Lewis, who was murdered by Debra's husband Tony.
Debra Villegas (left) and friend, Melissa Lewis, who was murdered by Debra's husband Tony.
Courtesy of Lynn Haberl

Convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's right-hand woman, Debra Villegas, may be getting her prison time reduced, if a judge listens to the prosecution's recommendation.

Villegas received the maximum sentence of a decade in prison in 2010 for her role in Rothstein's $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme. But prosecutors are recommending U.S. District Judge William Zloch that he reduce Villega's prison time for cooperating with them in nailing other, more prominent members of Rothstein's scheme, including his attorney Christina Kitterman.

Villegas has so far served 3-1/2 years at the medium-security federal prison in Coleman in Central Florida.

See also: Sentencing Debra Villegas

Villegas, the former chief operating officer at the now-defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm, pleaded guilty to one count of money-laundering conspiracy for her role in Rothstein's scheme which became the largest investment fraud scheme in Florida history. Rothstein is currently serving 50 years.

Meanwhile, Villegas' husband Tony was charged with the March 2008 murder of Melissa Britt Lewis, a friend of Debra's and a lawyer who worked at Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler. According to prosecutors, Tony blamed Melissa for breaking up his marriage with Debra, which Debra had described as physically abusive.

In 2010, New Times published a feature story on Villegas and Lewis' friendship, and Lewis' eventual murder. Tony Villegas was charged with first-degree murder after police found his DNA on a suit jacket that Lewis had been wearing the day she was murdered.

After Villegas and Tony separated, Rothstein helped Debra out by purchasing a $475,000 home in Weston for her, as well as paid for security for her family following Lewis' murder. Rothstein also bought Debra a Maserati.

Debra was sentenced for, among other things, falsifying names on settlements for Rothstein that eventually became the foundation to his Ponzi scheme

On Monday, prosecutors said Debra's prison term should be cut in half, from ten years to five, because of her extensive cooperation with investigators, reports the Sun-Sentinel.

Prosecutors say she helped them a day after Rothstein's scam was exposed, and helped them bring down people like Rothstein's former law firm partners Stuart Rosenfeldt and Russell Adler.

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter




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