The former chief operating officer at the law firm run by convicted Ponzi scheme operator Scott Rothstein was sentenced Friday to the maximum 10 years in federal prison for her role in the $1.2 billion fraud.

But Debra Villegas, 43, will probably serve far less time because of her extensive cooperation with prosecutors, who said it was likely they would seek a sentence reduction later. U.S. District Judge William Zloch of the Southern District of Florida also took the unusual step of allowing Villegas to remain free until June 24, 2011, so she can assist in the ongoing investigation of the now-defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler firm.