In a murder-for-hire case inhabited by a circus of bizarre, conniving characters, Dalia Dippolito's sentencing hearing today in Palm Beach Circuit Court lived up to its promise of tabloid-worthy antics.
Michael Dippolito, the husband and ex-felon Dalia tried to have killed, took the witness stand wearing a lavender/pink tie and gray suit, his dark hair spiked and gelled. He was clearly upset and ranted about how Dalia's attempt to hire a hit man had destroyed him.
"I'm still on probation. My business has failed. My life is ruined," he said. "I sat up here today and felt like I was getting shit on again."
Minutes earlier, a parade of Dalia's friends and relatives cried as they described her as a loyal daughter who took care of her grandparents and had slumber parties with her little sister.
"The media has made my sister look like a monster, which is very, very far from what she is," Samira Mohammed, 16, testified. "She helped me get ready for prom, she helped me on my first date... She always taught me to be a tough cookie."
Dalia, who was allegedly working as a professional escort when she met her husband, covered her face with her hand and cried as she listened. Stripped of her usual makeup and jewelry, she looked pale and subdued in her blue prison jumpsuit.
But Judge Jeffrey Colbath remained unswayed. Before sentencing her to 20 years in prison, he told Dalia her plot to have her husband killed was "pure evil," and he blasted her for "taking advantage of a guy that was gullible."
"I haven't heard an ounce of remorse," Colbath said. "It was astonishing the cold-blooded denial that you're willing to go to in order to avoid the obvious."
The most bizarre part of the hearing, however, was Michael Dippolito venting his frustration about the approximately $191,000 in restitution he owes to victims of a telemarketing fraud he ran a decade ago. Until the money is paid, Michael Dippolito is still on probation.
He says he gave Dalia the money while they were married -- in a convoluted lending scenario -- but she spent the dough.
"I have about 14 victims who haven't been paid their restitution because of this," he said on the witness stand today. "This girl doesn't feel sorry for anything."
It was strange logic for a man who spent $225,000 to buy a Boynton Beach townhouse -- outright, no mortgage -- when he first married Dalia in 2009. He also bought a Porsche. Where was his concern for his fraud victims then?
Regardless, Michael Dippolito walked out of the courtroom as the victor today. He told reporters he was "5,000 percent happy" with the verdict, echoing Dalia's tape-recorded statement to an undercover cop that she was "5,000 percent sure" she wanted her husband killed.
The Dippolitos are still married, by the way. Their divorce hasn't gone through yet. Lovely couple, no?
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