Debra Villegas Gets Two More Months of Freedom; Tony Villegas Back in Jail | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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Debra Villegas Gets Two More Months of Freedom; Tony Villegas Back in Jail

Debra Villegas, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with Scott Rothstein's Ponzi scheme, will not be sentenced on Friday as planned.

Rothstein's former right-hand woman has two more months of freedom, thanks to summer vacation scheduling conflicts and her lawyer's insistence that she's working "diligently" to help the feds in their ongoing criminal investigation.

As chief operating officer at Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, Villegas had an intimate knowledge of the firm's books. Rothstein boasted that she kept track of the finances, and now that skill is helping keep her out of prison.

"Villegas has proactively moved to streamline the enormous amount of data that is in her

possession, analyze it, and provide the results to the government's case agents," attorney Robert Stickney wrote in his motion to postpone sentencing. "[She] is better able to assist the government while she remains on bond with unlimited access to computer files and bank documents associated with this case."

Stickney asked for the sentencing to be pushed back until October, partly because he was out of town when Villegas' probation officer completed a presentence investigation report in July. When Stickney got back to town, the PO was on vacation -- a common predicament in August in South Florida.

Villegas has already forfeited a Maserati Gran Turismo and a $475,000 house in Weston that Rothstein bought her. This spring, her lawyer said she was remarried and living in Clewiston.

Her ex-husband, Tony Villegas, is in the Broward County Jail. He was arrested in 2008, charged with strangling Debra's best friend, attorney Melissa Britt Lewis, and dumping her body in a canal.

Some conspiracy theorists wondered if Tony was framed and Lewis was killed because she discovered the Ponzi scheme. But Plantation police investigators have never publicly connected the two crimes. Instead, Tony's ex-wife and children allege that he was physically abusive and blamed Melissa for his divorce.

This May, Tony Villegas was deemed incompetent to stand trial and transferred to a mental-health facility for treatment. He's since been moved back to jail -- usually a sign of improved health -- and psychologists are evaluating him to see if his condition has gotten better, says his attorney, Al Milian. A status hearing in the case is scheduled for September.

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Lisa Rab
Contact: Lisa Rab

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