Dalia Dippolito is currently in prison for trying to hire a hitman to kill her husband, which was caught on camera in conjunction with the TV show Cops. On Friday, May 15, 20/20 examines the case with new interviews from the undercover officer who busted Dippolito and Dippolito’s attorney in an episode titled “Down Payment on Death.”
Ahead of that episode, here is what you need to know about Dippolito and her murder-for-hire plot.
1. Dippolito Is a Former Escort
According to NBC News, Dalia was working as a Florida escort when Mike Dippolito hired her for sex in October 2008. He testified at trial that they hit it off so well that they got married a few months later, in February 2009.
But he said that within a month, he suspected that she was stealing from him and planting drugs in his truck in an effort to get his probation for a fraud sentence revoked. He also believed she once spiked his iced tea with antifreeze in an attempt on his life.
In a 2011 interview with WPBF 25 News, Dippolito said, “I really wish for all of our sakes, not just for me, I just wish me and her never met … we had plans. We were looking at baby names and all kinds of different things.”
2. She Tried to Hire a Hitman to Kill Her Husband
In August 2009, Dippolito approached Widy Jean, an undercover cop, to ask him to kill her husband for $7,000. It was all caught on camera in the hopes of getting on the TV series Cops. Jean tells ABC News in the new 20/20 special, “It is possible to hire hitmen in the movies, but it is very hard to do in real life. It almost always turns out the hitman is an undercover cop.”
NBC News reported that at the time Dippolito was trying to have her husband killed, she was also sleeping with a man named Mike Stanley, who was helping her try to get Mike Dippolito thrown back in prison.
Text messages between Stanley and Dippolito indicated she wanted Stanley to impersonate a doctor to help her hide her $100,000 theft by pretending to be pregnant. She later wanted him to impersonate a lawyer to get her husband to think he had completed his probation, the idea being that if he stopped going to see his probation officer for his scheduled visits, he would be found in violation of said probation and thrown back in prison.
Dippolito maintained that she didn’t mean it when she was talking to Jean about killing her husband. She always claimed she was just “acting” in the videos, according to her 2015 interview with 20/20.
3. It Took 3 Trials to Get Her Convicted
In 2011, Dippolito was convicted and sentenced to 20 years for solicitation to commit first-degree murder. In that trial, the judge admonished her for her lack of remorse, saying, “I think ‘I’m sorry’ would have gone a long way. It’s astonishing, the cold-blooded denial you’re willing to go to.”
But that conviction was overturned on appeal due to jury selection issues, according to the Associated Press.
Then in 2016, Dippolito’s retrial ended in a hung jury. Finally, in 2017, it took the jury just 90 minutes to convict her of solicitation to commit first-degree murder.
Her defense team always argued that her husband Mike was involved in the plot as a way for them to become famous, something he staunchly denied.
In a 2011 interview with WPTV in Florida, Mike Dippolito said, “To say I was involved is just insane. I obviously wanted all the opposite of this. I’d’ve been living a different life right now … I didn’t want any of this. I feel bad for her in a way … I feel bad for her that she’s a lost person, you know?”
He added, “She was talking about having me killed like she was ordering a baloney sandwich … it didn’t mean anything to her and that’s the creepy part of it.”
4. Dippolito Was Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison
Dippolito was sentenced to 16 years in prison after her third trial. Circuit Court Judge Glenn Kelley said at the sentencing that she acted in a “cold and calculated manner,” according to NBC News.
“This particular crime was committed not in an unsophisticated way, but in a sophisticated way in a calculated fashion,” Kelley said. “There was a plan put in place by Dalia Dippolito to kill Mike Dippolito.”
Prosecutors argued for a 30-year sentence for Dippolito, which is the maximum her crime would allow, but the judge agreed with the previous 20-year sentence and gave her credit for four of the eight years she spent under house arrest during the various trials.
5. She Discussed a Prison Break Aided by a Drone
According to a 2017 ABC News report, Dippolito was caught talking on a prison phone to a man only identified as “James” about using a drone to help her escape from prison after she learned of a South Carolina inmate who had done it.
“He had somebody fly a drone over and drop off wire cutters and he cut wires and escaped from prison,” she said enthusiastically in the call recording obtained by ABC News. “Everyone here was like pumped up when they read that.”
James then told her that it would never work at her current jail. Her lawyers said that prosecutors took the conversation out of context.
“There was nothing in this jailhouse phone call that indicates that Dalia Dippolito had any intent or plan to carry out to escape this jail,” said attorney Brian Claypool.
In the latest interview with ABC News, Claypool said it has been a “roller coaster ride” for Dippolito in jail but that she is “resilient” and “has not given up hope for getting a new trial.”
He also says she gets to see her son “on a regular basis,” but he is being raised by her mother. Dippolito gave birth to the 4-year-old while she was under house arrest in 2016.
20/20 airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.