Broward News

Rothstein Says He Had an Affair With Slain Lawyer Melissa Lewis

In a sworn deposition last month, convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein alleged he had an affair with his slain employee, Melissa Britt Lewis, years ago when Lewis was in law school. He also said law enforcement officials were feeding him information about the investigation into Lewis' murder after she was killed in 2008 -- although he denied influencing that investigation.

Rothstein's statements about the affair back up the claim Debra Villegas -- Lewis' best friend -- made to Plantation police in 2009.

"Scott was having affairs with any student that came into the office," Villegas' lawyer, Paul Lazarus, told police at the time. "And she [Lewis] started out as a student."

Lewis attended law school at Nova Southeastern University. In 1999, Rothstein -- who was also her professor -- hired her as a clerk at his then-fledgling firm. Rothstein was married at the time; Lewis was not. Over the years, Lewis worked her way up at Rothstein Rosenfeldt Alder as an employment lawyer.

Lewis' family didn't know about the alleged affair, Villegas told the police. "Nobody knows it; it's something she's ashamed of."

While being questioned by defense attorney Sam Rabin last month, Rothstein offered little new information about the affair. He simply confirmed that he had a relationship with Lewis years before she was killed.

Rabin: Was she married at the time that you were having the relationship with her?

Rothstein: No. She was a student of mine.

Rabin: Okay. Do you know if her -- the person who became to be known as her -- or became her husband ever knew about that relationship?

Rothstein: I do not know.

Rabin: After she was murdered, did you do anything to influence the investigation by law enforcement of her death?

Rothstein: No.

Rabin Did you have anybody from law enforcement feeding you information about the investigation as it was going on?

Rothstein: Yes.
In March 2008, Lewis, 39, was found strangled, her body dumped in a canal. Prosecutors charged Tony Villegas, Debra's ex-husband, with the crime, alleging that Tony was violent and abusive and blamed Lewis for his divorce. Tony's trial is scheduled to begin on January 9.

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Lisa Rab
Contact: Lisa Rab