BOYNTON BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) — A former Florida escort who made headlines when her efforts to hire a hitman to kill her husband ended up on “Cops” was sentenced to 16 years in prison Friday.
Last month, a jury convicted Dalia Dippolito on a charge of solicitation of first-degree murder. She was recorded on video and audio in 2009 as she plotted to kill Michael Dippolito, telling an undercover detective she was “5,000 percent sure” she wanted her husband dead.
Prosecutors believe she wanted control of the couple’s town house and his savings. In court, her ex-husband, Mike Dippolito, refuted the notion that he was a bad husband during their brief marriage.
“I had a successful business,” said Mike Dippolito. “In the beginning, we were excited, everything was going great. I got to meet her family, we were going there every other day.”
A 2011 conviction and 20-year sentence were thrown out on appeal. A retrial last fall ended with a 3-3 hung jury. This time, it took the six-member jury 90 minutes to convict Dippolito, 34, who had a child last year with another man while under house arrest.
On Friday, Dippolito was sentenced to 16 years in state prison with credit for the 160 days she’s already served behind bars. Though, she wasn’t given any credit for the last eight years she spent on house arrest.
Lead defense attorney Brian Claypool said in a statement that Dippolito deserves leniency because Boynton Beach detectives railroaded her by playing to the “Cops” cameras in hopes of becoming famous.
“Cops” was coincidentally in town when the case broke and turned it into a special episode. It’s the same argument he and co-defense attorney Craig Rosenfeld used during the last two trials.
“To give Dalia a hefty sentence and send her to jail for many years sends a message that it’s OK for police departments to break the rules and break the law and use contaminated evidence to get a conviction,” Claypool said. Her attorneys plan to appeal the conviction.
Using the same strategy that won the 2009 conviction Williams and co-prosecutor Laura Laurie told jurors during the latest trial not to be distracted by the police misconduct allegations and persuaded them that the evidence against Dippolito was overwhelming.
During last year’s retrial, they focused heavily on the 23-minute video in which Dippolito told undercover officer Widy Jean she wanted her husband killed and agreed to pay $7,000. She also discussed various plots before Jean said he would kill her husband at the couple’s home, making it look like a botched burglary while she was at the gym.
This time, while the tape remained a key cog in their case, they also called Michael Dippolito, a convicted conman who testified that his then-wife stole $100,000 from him shortly after they got married in February 2009. He also said someone twice planted drugs in his SUV and called police, which could have landed him back in prison for violating his probation. He thinks it was his ex-wife. He has said he met his former wife in 2008 when he hired her for sex. He soon divorced another woman and married her.
Prosecutors also read for the jury X-rated text messages Dalia Dippolito exchanged with a now-deceased lover, Mike Stanley, in 2009 after she got married.
She had Stanley impersonate a doctor, to help her hide the $100,000 theft by pretending to be pregnant, and later a lawyer, to make her husband wrongly think he had completed probation, prosecutors said. She hoped that if her husband stopped visiting his probation officer, he would be found in violation and returned to prison. In one text message, she rejoiced after persuading her husband to put their town house in her name only; in another, she complained after learning she still couldn’t sell it without his signature.
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