US seeks half-off prison term for Rothstein figure for cooperation in $1.2B Ponzi probe



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FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida — Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to cut in half the prison term imposed on a woman deeply involved in ex-lawyer Scott Rothstein's $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme because of her extensive cooperation.

Court documents filed Monday seek to reduce Debra Villegas' sentence from 10 to five years. Villegas was chief operating officer at the now-defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler firm in Fort Lauderdale and worked closely with Rothstein on the Ponzi scheme.

Prosecutors say Villegas deserves credit for implicating numerous other people in the scam and helping investigators identify Rothstein assets to be seized. Villegas' own lawyer wants the sentence cut to four years.

The scheme involved investments in phony legal settlements. Rothstein is serving a 50-year prison sentence and more than two dozen other people have been convicted.

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