FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Debra Villegas, the right hand woman of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, has turned herself in to begin serving a 10 year sentence for her role in the $1.2 billion scam.

The Bureau of Prisons confirmed to CBS4 News that Villegas is at the Coleman Federal Corrections Complex in Coleman, just south of Ocala.

Villegas, 43, served as the chief operating officer of Rothstein’s now-defunct law firm.

At her sentencing last year, a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale also ordered Villegas to pay $363 million in restitution. Her prison sentence was deferred until Friday because she was assisting the federal government in the case.

During her sentencing hearing, a psychologist testified that she is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder due to the fact that she was abused as a child, she was in a 17-year abusive marriage and that husband is accused of killing her best friend.

Villegas’ attorney said he and her friend who was murdered supported Villegas as she got away from her ex-husband. The attorney said that world came crashing down after the murder.

Villegas pleaded guilty in June of 2010 to money laundering conspiracy and admitted helping Rothstein draft fake legal documents. Her attorney claimed Villegas did not know the extent of Rothstein’s scheme involving investments in nonexistent legal settlements.

  1. unzipped says:

    Childhood abuse seems to be a very poplular defense these days.

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