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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A South Florida man accused of killing an attorney and dumping her body in a canal was found guilty Monday.

Tony Villegas, 52, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Melissa Lewis, a partner in convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's now-defunct law firm.

Villegas was arrested in 2008 after Lewis' body was found in a Plantation canal.

Prosecutors argued that Villegas killed Lewis because he believed that she was responsible for the breakup of his marriage.

Melissa Lewis

Melissa Lewis was an attorney in convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's law firm when she was killed in 2008.

"He took this woman at the prime of her life, and he discards her like a piece of trash in a canal because she was an obstacle," assistant state attorney Shari Tate said during her closing arguments.

Villegas' ex-wife and son testified against him during his trial, which began last week.

"With a selfish act of jealousy, you not only violated our family, but your own, too," Lewis' aunt, Lynn Haberl, said in court after the verdict was announced. "We will all suffer this loss as long as we live. But we forgive you."

Villegas was immediately sentenced to life in prison.

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