When Scott Rothstein was an unknown labor and employment lawyer in Florida’s suburban Broward County, Debra Villegas was there at his side as his trusted paralegal.

She followed Rothstein to three law firms on his rise to become one of South Florida’s larger-than-life power brokers, political donors and philanthropists. Federal prosecutors charged Tuesday that she helped him pull off his fraud and reaped the financial rewards of his $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme in the form of a Weston, Fla., home purchased for $100 and a Maserati sports car.