If all goes well for Dalia Dippolito Tuesday, the former Boynton Beach newlywed once convicted of trying to have her husband killed will escape a return trip to jail and keep the lead defense attorney going into her May retrial.
If not, the 33-year-old could be headed back to jail on accusations that she violated her house arrest by traveling to Miami late last year for an exclusive interview with ABC’s 20/20. And Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley could revoke the special permission he gave California attorney Brian Claypool to work on Dippolito’s case because Claypool told reporters last month that the judge would be giving in to community pressure and sensationalism if he rejected Dippolito’s recent quest to have her case thrown out.
“Mr. Claypool’s comments at the February 23, 2016 press conference violate Bar Rule 4-8.2(a) by making a statement concerning the integrity of the Court that he knows to be false, or that was made with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity,” Kelley wrote earlier this month in an order for Claypool to appear in court.
Kelley, who ultimately denied Dippolito’s motion to have her charges dismissed, included as a footnote in his memo against Claypool that Dippolito also violated the rules of house arrest when she traveled to the offices of her Miami attorney Mark Eiglarsh for the December interview with ABC.
Prosecutors seized on that and just days later asked Kelley to either raise Dippolito’s bail or send her back to jail. Echoing Kelley’s words, Assistant State Attorney Craig Williams wrote on March 7 that Dippolito was allowed to travel to Miami only for the purposes of meeting with her lawyers to prepare for her retrial – not for an interview.
Williams has asked Kelley to either send Dippolito back to jail or raise her bail.
Kelley has called Dippolito, her legal team and prosecutors in for a 4 p.m. hearing Tuesday to decide both issues in what has become just the latest twist in the case that made international headlines when a YouTube video showing Dippolito crying at what turned out to be a staged crime scene went viral.
Claypool over the weekend announced plans to mount a vigorous defense to keep himself on the case, saying he’d already consulted with local defense attorneys Richard Lubin and Scott Richardson on the matter but will represent himself in an attempt to keep the judge from taking him off the case.
The statements he made were in no way intended to disparage Kelley, Claypool has said, calling the matter “an unfortunate incident.” In paperwork filed Sunday, Claypool quoted other comments he’d made about the judge in the same press conference.
“I think he is a fair judge. I think what he is trying to do is give leeway to both sides and let everything in so he can make an informed decision,” Claypool said a month ago.
The statements came after a hearing that marked Dippolito’s first time ever testifying in court since her 2009 arrest.
Her 2011 trial ended with a conviction after a jury rejected her defense that she and her husband Michael conspired together to hire an undercover Boynton Beach detective posing as a hitman to kill Michael as a ploy for a reality television show.
In the time since an appellate court overturned that conviction and 20-year sentence, Dippolito has said that she was just following the orders of Mohammed Shihadeh, the former lover who turned her in to police and sparked the undercover investigation.
She said she, her husband and Shihadeh were all working together to create an acting showcase that they hoped to parlay into more acting work, but when she tried to back out of the plot Shihadeh threatened to hurt her and her family.
— Daphne Duret, staff writer