BOYNTON BEACH, FL — The third trial for the Florida woman accused of hiring a hitman to have her newlywed husband killed is winding down in a case involving wild twists and turns, including a bit-part actor, a fake hit man, and the reality show Cops.
Dalia Dippolito has already been tried twice for attempting to kill her husband Michael. The first time, in 2011, she was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. But in 2014, an appellate court overturned the verdict — and then a second jury tasked with deciding the case could not agree.
On Monday, the Boynton Beach police officer who played the role of hitman at the heart of the agency’s 2009 investigation against Dippolito took the stand. The jury heard that she promised a lover that they would be in “paradise island” once her husband was behind bars, and later told undercover officer Jean Widy (above) that she was “5,000 percent” sure she wanted her husband dead.
Before resorting to having him killed, Dalia Dippolito allegedly first attempted to set her husband up so that he was caught with drugs and his bank account frozen.
For that part of the plan, Dalia Dippolito allegedly reached out to another sometime lover, Mohamed Shihadeh, a convenience-store owner who once played a bit role on the now-canceled USA network television show Burn Notice. Shihadeh soon afterward went to Boynton Beach police in hopes that they would call Dippolito and scare her off her plans.
Instead they launched an investigation that culminated with Dippolito being caught on camera — and a viral video circulating of Dippolito crying at a crime scene she ultimately learned was staged.
In his role as pretend-hitman, Officer Widy met with Dippolito to iron out their agreement in a red Chrysler Sebring convertible that had been outfitted with recording devices. During the discussion, Dippolito infamously said that she was “5,000 percent sure” that she wanted her husband dead.
During the last trial, the defendant’s attorneys Brian Claypool and Greg Rosenfeld argued that the Boynton Beach Police Department set Dippolito up. They alleged that police concocted the murder-for-hire story to impress producers of the reality-TV show Cops.
According to the lawyers, the police failed to keep Shihadeh’s identity as an informant secret, left multiple phone calls and a key encounter at a Chili’s restaurant between Dippolito and Shihadeh unrecorded, and provided no protection for Michael Dippolito as the alleged plot unfolded. They claim that those facts prove that the police themselves never really believed Dalia Dippolito wanted her husband dead.
Jean, now a sergeant at the Boynton Beach Police Department, told Dippolito that he expected $3,000 up front for the hit and wanted another $3,000 afterward. Jean offered Dippolito a money-back guarantee on her $1,200 deposit if the hit fell through, which defense lawyers say would be unbelievable dialogue for an actual hired killer. But Jean testified that he was just gathering evidence, and said, “It’s not like I was actually going to kill Mr. Dippolito.”
The trial continues.
Main photo: Officer Widy Jean [Palm Beach Post (screenshot)]