The Broward State Attorney's Office plans to investigate Michael Dippolito's restitution payments to victims of a foreign currency investment scam he ran eight years ago.
At least one victim of the scam, Ohio resident George Nemeth, lost $20,000 to Dippolito yet says he only receives between $8 and $10 a month in restitution payments.
"That's ridiculous," says Kathy Heaven, an assistant state attorney in Broward's economic crime unit. "There's absolutely no reason that anybody should get an $8 restitution check."
Dippolito's finances and his criminal history have come under scrutiny because he told Boynton Beach police that his wife, Dalia, stole about $190,000 from him and that that money was intended to pay off his restitution debt.
According to a confidential informant, who told police he was an "intimate friend" of Dalia's, the stolen money -- and her inability to repay it -- was one of the reasons Dalia decided to have her husband killed.
"She basically told me that she lost, from the man that she's married to right now, $200,000, and that she needed to get it back," the informant said in a sworn, taped police interview.
Boynton Beach police arrested Dalia in August, alleging that she hired a hit man, who was really an undercover officer, to kill Michael. She has pleaded not guilty to solicitation to commit murder.
Meanwhile, Michael Dippolito is on probation for organized fraud. As part of his punishment, he's obligated to pay about $155,000 in restitution to a dozen victims. But it's unclear why some victims have received such small monthly payments.
Money doesn't appear to be tight for Dippolito. According to financial information disclosed in his 2008 divorce from his first wife, he earns about $87,000 a year from his marketing firm, Mad Media.
He also bought a $225,000 Boynton Beach townhouse in January of this year. He then signed the home over to Dalia, telling police "his wife was to be the sole owner of his home until he would clear his financial restitution to his victims," according to a police report.
Attorney Heaven says it's Dippolito's responsibility to prove that he cannot pay more to his victims."The ability to pay can always be revisited," she says.
She plans to examine Dippolito's court files and ask for a hearing. Normally, she says such disputes involve verifying the defendant's finances through bank records. Dippolito's probation officer is responsible for monitoring his monthly income. But if that income has not been reported accurately, the restitution payments could change.
As for Dippolito's townhouse, Heaven says judges are generally reluctant to take away someone's home. But she could argue that any equity he has in the home should be given to the fraud victims.
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