Home News Former escort sentenced to 16 years in murder-for-hire plot to kill husband

Former escort sentenced to 16 years in murder-for-hire plot to kill husband

FILE – in this June 16, 2017 file photo, Dalia Dippolito listens to attorneys and Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley discuss jury instructions in her third attempted murder trial in West Palm Beach, Fla. Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley is scheduled Friday, July 21 to sentence Dippolito, who was convicted last month 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.(Lannis Waters /Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)

Dalia Dippolito was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison for trying to arrange the murder of her husband, a crime caught on video that captured the world’s attention.

Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley said the offense was committed in a “cold and calculated fashion” and she deserved to be punished for it.

“Ms. Dippolito had the intent to have her husband killed,” he said, imposing a sentence that was well below the 30 years requested by prosecutors.

The 34-year-old South Florida woman’s attorneys had pleaded for mercy, urging no more than two years in prison plus probation — four years in prison was the minimum recommended in state sentencing guidelines.

Dalia Dippolito listens to her attorney read a letter from her mother during her sentencing, Friday, July 21, 2017, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley is scheduled Friday to sentence Dalia Dippolito, who was convicted last month of solicitation of first-degree murder for trying to hire a hit man to murder her newlywed husband. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)

Her lawyers summed up her actions in 2009 as a one-time “grave mistake,” while stressing the importance of having her raise a 14-month old son she gave birth to while on house arrest.

“She’s a loving mother” who otherwise has no criminal history, said attorney Greg Rosenfeld. “Her life has been nothing short of exemplary.”

But prosecutors asked for the highest possible sentence, for “the most ruthless, cruel, inhumane, heartless and deliberate” acts against former spouse Michael Dippolito.

At her third trial last month on a murder-for-hire charge, her jury came back with a guilty verdict in about 90 minutes. That was after hearing recordings of her negotiating with an undercover Boynton Beach cop posing as a hitman, and discussing the murder plans with a former lover who was serving as a police informant.

“I’m positive, like 5,000 percent sure I want it done,” she told the officer of the plan to put two bullets in her husband’s head.

Michael Dippolito testifies during the sentencing hearing for his ex-wife, Dalia Dippolito, Friday, July 21, 2017, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Dalia Dippolito was convicted last month in her third trial on charges she tried to have her husband killed in 2009. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)

Prosecutors Craig Williams and Laura Laurie played that and other recordings for the judge, during a four-hour sentencing hearing attended by State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Dalia Dippolito’s close family members and friends, and numerous lawyers.

Michael Dippolito was the state’s only witness. He testified he met his ex-wife when she showed up at his door as a paid escort in October 2008. He said they got married just four months later, and it was great in the beginning, but soon the shine wore off and ended in ways unimaginable.

At the trial, the jury heard about his wife’s alleged attempts to poison him by spiking his tea with antifreeze, trying to steal a gun, talking with another hitman to do the deed, stealing $100,000 of her husband’s money, and scheming with a boyfriend in numerous text messages to get her husband thrown in jail on a probation violation.

After three trials and eight years of the case consuming his life, Michael Dippolito said he hasn’t been able to escape it.

“It spins around like a fan, I can’t get over it,” he told the judge on Friday, adding he wanted to see his ex-wife receive prison time.

Dippolito’s frustration over his experience was marked with angry words from the witness stand for the defense including several expletives.

Later, the judge took a moment to compliment Michael Dippolito’s honest remarks, noting, “He was an innocent victim in all of this.”

Dalia Dippolito and her supporters elected not to speak in court before she learned her fate, but several letters from her mother and others pleading for leniency were read aloud to the judge.

Rosenfeld said Dippolito has already suffered enough in place of a sentence.

“Punishing Ms. Dippolito has been satisfied by eight years of home confinement and social humiliation,” the lawyer argued.

Defense attorney Brian Claypool asked the judge to consider that his client “is a human being” and “not a monster the state is portraying.”

In the end Friday, the judge decided a lengthy prison term was appropriate. Kelley also chose not to repeat or exceed the original 20-year sentence Dippolito received from another judge following her first trial conviction in 2011.

Outside the courtroom, Aronberg said he respected Kelley’s decision and praised the work of his assistants in obtaining justice for victim Michael Dippolito.

“Hopefully, this chapter is now closed,” he said.

Rosenfeld said Friday’s outcome was “obviously very tough” but vowed, “We’re going to keep fighting for Dalia.”

What’s next? Another appeal and a bid for a fourth trial.

If there is one, Kelley said Friday he’s out.

“I’ve tried this case twice,” he said. “If there’s another trial it won’t be me sitting here.”

A big question is whether Kelley will allow Dippolito to return to house arrest while her appeal is pending for perhaps two to three years.

In 2011, Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath allowed Dippolito’s family to post a $500,000 appellate bond that enabled her to stay confined in her mother’s home while wearing a GPS ankle monitor. The bond was lowered to $25,000 in 2014 after she was awarded a new trial.

Dippolito has been declared indigent by the court; her attorneys have been working for her for free.

Judge Kelley said he will schedule a hearing on the appellate bond issue after he receives a formal request from her attorneys.

Prosecutors are expected to oppose it and ask that she start her prison sentence.

For now, she is heading back to a cell in the Palm Beach County Jail, with credit for 163 days served so far.

The crux of Dippolito’s request for a favorable sentence — and certainly for her release pending appeal — centered on her status as a relatively new mother who can’t stand the thought of being “ripped away from her child.”

“Any extended incarceration would not just serve to punish Dalia, but would also punish her baby,” attorneys Rosenfeld, Claypool and Andrew B. Greenlee wrote this week.

News of the infant broke during Dippolito’s second trial last December, before it ended in a mistrial. Claypool had asked that jury to send her home to her infant son, prompting an admonishment from the judge not to repeat that statement again.

The baby has not been seen in the courtroom, but the attorneys informed Kelley that since his mother was convicted, the “little boy has been going around the house asking for ‘Mama’ and his sleep pattern has been irregular.”

Dippolito’s mother and sister have been caring for the child, but the lawyers begged Kelley to consider that there is “nothing as primal and strong as the bond between a mother and child,” the lawyers wrote.

“She lives for that child,” Rosenfeld told the judge.

In response, prosecutor Williams said Dippolito’s secret pregnancy while on house arrest showed how she is a “master manipulator.” He suggested she had the baby “to use it as a weapon in her second trial” to gain sympathy from the jury.

Judge Kelley said he saw merits to the arguments from both sides, but in the end, “the child is not going to play a factor in this. It’s not something I need to or want to consider.”

mjfreeman@sun-sentinel.com, 561-243-6642 or Twitter @marcjfreeman


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  1. “She’s a loving mother” who otherwise has no criminal history, said attorney Greg Rosenfeld. “Her life has been nothing short of exemplary.”

    Other than that little thing about hiring a hit man to kill her husband, but then who HASN’T hired a hit man to kill their husband?


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