Sun, Jun 18, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Ex-escort guilty of trying to hire a cop for murder

AP, WEST PALM BEACH, Florida

A former escort on Friday was convicted of trying to hire a police officer to kill her newlywed husband to get control of his money and their town house.

Dalia Dippolito teared up as she turned to look at her sobbing family when the jury announced its verdict after deliberating for only an hour-and-a-half.

She faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced on Wednesday.

This was the third trial for Dippolito. A 2011 conviction and 20-year sentence were thrown out on appeal, while a trial last year ended with a hung jury.

Dippolito, 34, was arrested in 2009 after she was videotaped soliciting an undercover police officer posing as an assassin.

Prosecutor Laura Laurie told jurors during closing arguments that Dippolito was a liar and manipulator who used two lovers to get her husband, convicted swindler Michael Dippolito, either sent back to prison or killed, because she wanted his money and their house.

Defense attorney Brian Claypool countered that it was Boynton Beach police who manipulated Dippolito and their informant so that detectives could become famous through the television show Cops, which filmed much of the investigation and turned it into a special episode.

“You will find no question that that woman lied and manipulated for her own gain,” Laurie told the three-woman, three-man jury during her closing arguments. “She couldn’t stand her husband, so just kill him.”

Claypool told the jury that Boynton Beach detectives pursued fame, not justice, during their investigation in the summer of 2009.

They manipulated the case by violating their own department rules, lying and playing to the Cops cameras, Claypool said.

“They had no desire to solve the crime,” Claypool said. “Get her on tape for the whole world to see... Does that sound like a police department looking to get justice in this case, one that’s determined to stop her from blowing her husband’s brains out?”

Last year, prosecutors focused heavily on a 23-minute video in which Dippolito tells undercover officer Widy Jean, who was portraying a killer for hire, she was “5,000 percent sure” she wanted her husband dead and appeared to agree to pay him US$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 piece of their evidence, prosecutors also called Michael Dippolito, who testified that his now ex-wife stole US$100,000 from him shortly after they got married in February 2009.

He also said someone had twice planted drugs in his car and called police, which could have landed him back in prison for violating his probation.

He thinks it was his wife.

According to the Palm Beach Post, prosecutors also read for the jury explicit 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 theft, and later a lawyer, to make her husband wrongly think he had completed probation, prosecutors said, adding that she hoped that if he stopped visiting his probation officer, he would be found in violation.

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