Dalia Dippolito believed she was hiring a hitman to kill her husband, Mike, but it was actually an undercover officer, and the whole plot was captured on camera for an episode of COPS. The Boynton Beach Police department set up an elaborate crime scene to make Dalia think her husband had truly been murdered. and she was found guilty of solicitation to commit first-degree murder and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
It was the morning of August 5th, 2009, and Dalia Dippolito was at the LA Fitness gym when she received a call from the Boynton Beach Police department and it went to voicemail. He said, “This is Sergeant Frank Ranzie Boynton Beach Police Department Detective Division. I need you to call me as soon as you can ma'am.” A few seconds later, Dalia calls the number back and Sergeant Frank Ranzie tells her to get home right away and he will tell her everything in person. When she got there, she was told that her husband, Mike Dippolito had been murdered and she immediately started crying. The couple were newlyweds, they had been married about 6 months. In reality, Mike wasn't dead. There had actually been an attempt on his life, but it was Dalia herself who hired the hitman to do it. Luckily for Mike, the hitman that his wife hired, was an undercover cop and it was all caught on camera.
The police had been tipped off weeks earlier about the plan, so they made an agreement with the producers of COPS tv show. They decided to send an officer to pose as a hitman and film the whole thing and they staged the crime scene to convince Dalia that the murder had actually taken place. When investigators asked Dalia to come to the police station to help them find suspects, she had no idea that they already had one. Then, her husband Mike entered the interrogation room and they told her she was being charged with solicitation of first-degree murder.
Let's start at the beginning. Dalia Mohammed was born in New York City on October 18th, 1982. She described herself on 20/20 as bubbly, friendly, understanding, sweet, compassionate, and really social. Mike said she was sweet and naive. She and her two siblings were raised by an Egyptian father and a Peruvian mother. This was a really tight-knit, religious family. When Dalia was 13, the family moved to Boynton Beach, Florida and she graduated from high school in 2000. She wasn't sure what career path would be the best for her, but she ended up getting a real estate license and began moonlighting as an escort. She met Michael Dippolito in 2008 through her escort work. Mike was married at the time, but he fell hard for Dalia. They began an affair and Mike said the sex was unbelievable, so he ended his marriage to be with her and they got married on February 2nd, 2009 and this was just 5 days after Mike's divorce was finalized.
Mike Dippolito was a very muscular guy who worked out a lot and he was an ex-convict who served time in prison and was on probation for stock fraud. He ran a boil room stock operation where he and others would call older people to sell them penny stocks. They would convince them that the stocks would be worth money, but it was all a scam. Mike plead guilty to organized scheme to defraud, unlicensed telemarketing, and grand theft. He served 2 years in Florida state prison and this was followed by 28 years of probation.
Dalia says that Mike was very charming when she first met him. They both were very driven by money and wanted to live the high life. They were into outdoor activities such as biking, but they also loved to stay in and watch movies together. Soon after his marriage to Dalia, some strange things started happening and he had encounters with cops and this could have jeopardized his freedom since he was on probation.
One night, Mike and Dalia went out to dinner and police found cocaine in his cigarette pack, but ended up letting him go because he was so sincere when he told them it wasn't his. Once morning, Dalia handed Mike a drink from Starbucks and he got so sick, he was laid out for days. Then the police received an anonymous tip that Mike was working as a drug dealer. They didn't find any evidence of this, but Mike was scared of getting charged. The next day when he went to gas up the vehicle, he found a bag of pills hidden inside and that's when he knew someone was trying to frame him. He actually questioned Dalia and she said she didn't have anything to do with it. So, he ended up transferring the title of his house to Dalia in July of 2009 to “protect his assets” just in case he was arrested. In case you didn't guess, Dalia was the anonymous caller.
Dalia Dippolito spent weeks planning her husband's murder. She actually went to her friend, Mohammed Shihadeh (Shi-hah-dah) to source a hitman for the job. The two of them had an on again, off again sexual relationship. She told Mohammed that her husband Mike was abusing her, he was controlling, and she wanted out of the marriage. She said he was so physically and emotionally abusive, that she couldn't just get a regular old divorce. She needed him out of her life for good and needed a permanent solution. Mike needed to be killed. He was like ok cool and went to the police and luckily, they believed him and decided to investigate things. This guy shows up with this story, doesn't know where Dalia lives, and he didn't even know her last name. It was complete chance that the COPS show was working with the police department that very week and agreed to film the whole thing. They set up a hidden camera in Mohammed's car and they told him to just schedule a little meeting with Dalia.
On July 30th, 2009, Dalia met up with Mohammed in a gas station parking lot and he told her he knew someone that could do the job and she could meet the contact two days later to coordinate the details. You can hear Mohammed trying to talk Dalia out of this and asking her if she really wanted to kill Mike for money. And won't his parents suspect you? She said they would never point the finger at her and she was going through with it and handed him $1200 so the hitman could buy a gun and she gave him a picture of her husband.
The Boynton Police Department had officer Widy (witty) Jean go undercover as the hitman to confirm Dalia's intentions. The meeting took place in a red convertible in a parking lot on August 1st, Dalia wore a small little sundress, and the COPS show recorded the meeting. During the meeting, Widy Jean says that he just wants to break things down. He said he bought a car, a phone, and a gun for the hit. He gave her every opportunity to back out and even tells her that after this meeting, there would be no way to find him or call him to cancel this transaction. Widy says, “Are you sure you want to kil him?” Dalia replies, “There's no changing. I'm determined already. I'm positive. I'm like, 5,000% sure.” At this point, Dalia hands the “hitman” $7,000 and agreed to go to her local gym on the morning of Wednesday, August 5th, to establish an alibi during the murder.
On the morning of August 5th, police start banging on the door, woke Mike up and they said, you need to come with us, your wife has hired someone to kill you. Mike looks around, disoriented, and he sees people all over in the bushes with cameras. They drove him to the police department and showed him the video where his wife said she was 5,000% sure that she wanted him killed.
On the morning of the hit, Dalia got up and went to the gym at 6 AM and police went to her town home to set up a fake crime scene. She received the call saying she needed to rush home and when she got there, there were police cars parked all around the front of the house and they put up the yellow crime scene tape and had a forensic photographer documenting everything. They propped the front door to the town home open and even put black fingerprint dust on it. Dalia burst into tears in an officer's arms when she was told that her husband was dead. Sergeant Paul Sheridan was comforting her and escorted her to the police station to help them identify a suspect. Investigators asked Dalia who would want to hurt her husband and she tells them that he had been in prison for stock fraud, so it's possible that one of the victims may have gotten revenge. Mike was going to get off probation early, but the people that he scammed were very upset about this and he still hadn't paid off the restitution.
Dalia explained that when Mike went to prison, some of the other people that were in on the scheme didn't get in trouble, they left the country and believed he owed them. She gave very vague details and didn't seem to know the names of the people she was talking about. She also mentioned that Mike struggled with alcohol and drugs, so he had to keep himself on a strict routine so he didn't slip up. He would get up early to go to the gym with Dalia every morning, grab Starbucks, and head to an AA meeting. He should have been at the gym that morning with her, but he had just had lyposuction to remove fat from his love handles.
During the interview, the investigator told Dalia that her husband had been shot in the head twice and never even made it out of bed that morning. She didn't show any emotion with that and kept discussing his past. Sergeant Paul Sheridan says, your husband was shot and she responds with, well, he used to be a drug addict and his drug of choice was crack. She said there was no drama in their marriage, they were happy.
They handcuffed Widy Jean, the officer that played the undercover hitman and they told Dalia that he was seen fleeing from the house. Widy played the part and said he had never seen Dalia Dippolito and she also denied knowing him as well. Up until this point, Dalia totally believed that her husband had been murdered and they brought him to the room. He told her that he knew everything and Dalia started pleading with him. “Mike, come here. Come here please, come here. I didn't do anything to you.” He refused to step foot in the room even though she begged him to.
It was discovered pretty quickly why Dalia wanted to get rid of her husband. Mike owed $191k in restitution and he could get off parole if he paid it off. Dalia told him that the two of them could pay it off together. She told him to come up with $100k and she will take $91k of her own. Mike was supposed to give money to Dalia and she would make the payments to his lawyer, but she was never sending the money. Mike found out that she stole $100k and never sent it and she promised she was going to pay it back.
Dalia's first call from jail was to her mother to tell her she didn't do anything, then she called her husband. She denied trying to kill him and criticized him for refusing to get her a lawyer. Mike told her that she needed to stop acting the way she was acting or she may have a rough time in jail. Dalia was released the next day on $25k bail and trial was set to begin in the spring of 2011. At this point, Mike knew he was lucky, but he didn't know HOW lucky he really was. Dalia's on again off again sex partner, Mohamed Shihadeh told investigators that she had actually poisoned Mike's Starbucks iced tea with Antifreeze. Investigators asked Mike, was there ever an incident with iced tea? Mike immediately remembered being so violently ill after drinking it. He took one sip of the tea and was sick for about two weeks.
The first trial was in 2011 and Dalia's defense attorney used the argument that Mike was in on the whole thing and they both had a desire to be famous and have their own reality TV show. Prosecutors argued that Dalia wanted her husband dead to control his assets, but Dalia said that's not true. She claimed that she was fully aware that she was being filmed by an undercover officer and it was because her husband was desperate to become a reality TV star. So, Dalia, Mike, and Mohamed, were all in on this hoax and this was for a YouTube video. She says he was the one that convinced her to do a murder-for-hire video. Dalia's defense attorney, Michael Salnick said, “It was stunt that Michael Dippolito, whether he'll admit it or not, hoped to capture the attention of someone in reality TV. Michael Dippolito's hoax to achieve fame and fortune was a bad prank.”
The jury took 3 hours to deliberate and found Dalia Dippolito guilty and she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for solicitation to commit first-degree murder. Mike said when it comes to the sentence, he was 5,000% happy with it, but in 2014 this decision was appealed because one of the jury members had been misinformed that Dalia was planning to kill Mike with antifreeze, so they needed a new trial. At the sentencing hearing, Mike Dippolito said, “People tell me you're lucky to be alive and I'm like, I guess. But I still have to go through all of this. It's not even real. It's like I can't even believe we're still sitting here like this girl didn't even try to do this.”
At the second trial, Dalia's defense attorney claimed that she was really a victim of “police entrapment”. She was completely innocent and the police set her up because they were working on the show COPS. The police just wanted to give the show an entertaining episode.
Dalia's attorney told the jurors that if they convicted her, they would be separating her from her infant son because she got pregnant while she was on house arrest. The father was named Robert Davis, he was a convicted felon and he had been living at Dalia's mother's house for a year before the final hearing. The retrial ended in a 3-3 hung jury, they were deadlocked. Dalia was released on house arrest and ended up giving birth to her son before her third and final trial in 2017. Judge Glenn Kelley agreed with the defense that it was ridiculous to have the show COPS film the arrest, but he sentenced Dalia to 16 years in prison on July 21st, 2017. The prosecution wanted her sentenced to 30 years, but the judge took time off for the years she spent on house arrest. She was found guilty of solicitation to commit first-degree murder after just 90 minutes of deliberation.
During sentencing, Judge Glenn Kelley complimented the state and defense for their high level of professionalism in this case. He said he believes her moral compass is askew and he hopes she can be rehabilitated. He believes that the most obvious conclusion is that she was motivated by greed, by avarice, by lust for another person, and motivated to be free of her husband and it's his belief that this started to manifest itself about 2-3 months after they were married. He told her that the sad thing for him is “there is absolutely no moral justification for your conduct. There's no evidence that you were being beaten and you were defending yourself, that you were a battered wife, that you were an alcoholic, that you were the victim of child abuse, that you were somehow acting in defense of yourself, even under a misguided notion. There's none of that here. All of your conduct was for self indulgence and just trying to take every bit of money that you could get a hold of so that you could go on and live this fast life.”
He said, “Now, Mr. Selnick tries to elude that you had this lifestyle before you met Mr. Dippolito, that was pristine and moral. Maybe so. I don't know about your behaviors before you met Mr. Dippolito, but I think it's a folly to suggest that you somehow were pure of heart on the day that you met Mr. Dippolito back on October 2008 and somehow being exposed to him for two months caused you to plunge into some type of moral decay that caused you to become a would be murderess. I just don't buy that. I don't buy that. I think not withstanding everything your mom, your family tried to give you. That was who you became, who you were. And it manifested itself in these horrible acts.”
“You met and married a man and shortly after the honeymoon, you set about trying to get him arrested and thrown in jail for violation of probation, trumping up charges, planting drugs on his car. Having others call the police, trying to get his probation officer involved in it. In as early as March, you began this relentless campaign to get rid of your husband. First your thinking, well, I'll just get him sent off to prison and that would be good enough. You used agile (a-guy-le) and sophistry to dupe others into your web of deception. You were the puppet master that was pulling all the strings. You weren't acting at the direction of somebody else. You weren't under the influence of somebody else. You were the one calling the shots. And you were engaged in a course of conduct not over some momentary lapse of good judgment. This wasn't like, ahh, I ran a red light, I shouldn't have done that. Or, ahh, what was I thinking? I had the gun in my hand and I shot it because I was angry.”
“It was weeks and months that you continued with these different schemes to try to rid yourself of your husband that was just something out of a novel. It was horrible to watch it unfold as the trial testimony came out. It was pure evil. You were taking advantage of a guy that was gullible, that was in love with you. And you contrived these elaborate plans and cajoled (kuh-joh-led) others to assist you in these efforts, that were unwitting participants in your plan and they didn't work.”
“When the green acres police department failed to find the drugs that you had orchestrated being planted on the car failed, then you tried again and had the drugs planted on the car again. And you had the westcombe (west-com) beach police department find it. And it was so preposterous that law enforcement not known to give drug dealers who are on probation a break, they didn't buy it, it was so ludicrous what was going on and they let your husband go at that point.”
“After those attempts to have your husband taken out of the picture by way of sending him back to prison for a long period of time, you learned that it wasn't good enough to have the house in your name, that if you wanted to sell the house, you were still going to need his signature. I think that's when it started to turn to even more sinister behavior. That's when the plot to have him killed started to take form.”
Dalia's appeal to the Florida Supreme Court in 2019 was rejected and the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case in February 2020.
Dalia's attorney, Brian Claypool said, “We plan on filing in the near future a Federal Writ of Habeus Corpus petition outlining several constitutional due process violations that occurred during Dalia's third trial. Thus we still have one last hope for a new trial that we believe is warranted.” Brian said that his client was “cautiously optimistic” and he told ABC: “She was never a career criminal. In fact, Dalia Dippolito didn't even have a criminal record when this all went down. Dalia is resilient. She has not given up hope for getting a new trial.” Brian explained that, “Every time I talk to Dalia in jail, she is still determined to get a new trial and to get vindicated. So, on one hand, she is very vigilant about working with us to get her a new trial and get her out of jail. On the other hand, it's very painful for Dalia to be in jail and to not be around her son.”
Dalia's mother and sister have been caring for her son and she was able to see him at least once a month during prison visits until Covid hit. She got a job working in the cafeteria and she is leading a bible study group. Her attorney, Brian Claypool says that she is “very well respected in jail for her faith.”
There are no more appeals to file, so Dalia will stay at the Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, Florida until 2032. When you ask Mike to describe Dalia in 3 words, he says, “Liar, liar, liar.” He isn't pleased with the punishment Dalia received and feels that she deserved a harsher sentence for the various crimes she committed against him. At a press conference, he said, “Point being, uh, I just feel like they could have did a lot more in the case that they didn't do. I feel like they left so much on the table, and it's a little disappointing.” Mike explained that this wasn't just an attempted murder-for-hire case, Dalia tried to poison him and have him arrested several times. This wasn't focused on in court and the defense tried to frame him as an abuser.
Mike says he has moved on and found love again with a woman named Gloria. They met at a restaurant and got engaged, but I couldn't find anything other than that. Mike is a real estate agent and says he is committed to making his business grow and leaving the past behind.