Newlywed Dalia Dippolito Gets 20 Years in Murder Sting; Judge Calls Her 'Pure Evil'

Dalia Dippolito's hiring of "hitman" to kill her husband was taped by police.

June 17, 2011— -- Calling her "pure evil," Judge Jeff Colbath sentenced Dalia Dippolito to 20 years in prison for hiring a hitman to kill her husband, Michael Dippolito, just six months after they got married.

Before the sentence was handed down, Dippolito, 28, wiped away tears as her friends and family asked the judge for leniency, describing her as having been a shy, quiet girl who loved her family. Her younger sister pleaded to have her "role model" back.

The judge thanked those who testified but said Dippolito was different things to different people. He called her a "puppet master" who took advantage of a man who loved her.

After the sentencing Michael Dippolito said, "I'm just very glad it's over.... I wish we were never here, and as far as the sentencing, I'm five thousand percent happy with it."

It was a twisted South Florida story of greed, money and a murder plot, all caught on tape.

In 2009, detectives in Boynton Beach, Fla. set up an undercover sting operation targeting Dippolito after being tipped off by an old friend that Dippolito wanted her husband, Mike Dippolito, dead.

Police decided to equip the friend's car with a hidden camera, which eventually would record Dippolito discussing hiring a hitman to kill her husband.

"No one is going to be able to point a finger at me," Dippolito said on the recording.

There was more filming to come. Working with police, the friend, Mohamed Shihadeh, set up a meeting for Dippolito with a "hitman" who was actually an undercover Boynton Beach police officer. Their conversation, too, was videotaped.

The tape shows the officer, Widy Jean, warning Dippolito that once their meeting ended, she wouldn't have an opportunity to change her mind about having her husband killed.

"There's no changing, no, like there's no changing," Dippolito replied. "I'm positive, like 5,000 percent sure."

After Dippolito "hired" Jean, there was more camera work to be done.

They set up a fake crime scene at the Dippolitos' home to make sure it looked like Mike Dippolito really had been murdered. When Dalia Dippolito arrived at the house and was told by police that her husband had been killed, two cameras caught her erupting into a fit of tears.

The police called it the worst acting job they'd ever seen. They said the act continued in the police station interrogation room, where Dalia Dippolito denied killing her husband.

Video tape from the police station shows police eventually bringing Dippolito's "hitman" into the room and asking if she knew him.

"I've never seen him before, ever," was Dippolito's reply.

The tapes, of course, told a different story. Police arrested Dippolito and, this past April, she went on trial on charges of solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

Dippolito's lawyers couldn't deny what was on those police tapes, but attorney Michael Salnick told the jury that nothing was what it seemed. He claimed that Dippolito's husband was never going to be a victim. Instead, he said, Mike Dippolito orchestrated the whole thing.

Defense attorneys argued Mike Dippolito was a fan of shows like the "Jersey Shore" and "Cheaters," which led him to plan a fake murder-for-hire so he and his wife could get their own reality show.

"It was a stunt that Michael Dippolito, whether he'll admit it or not, hoped to capture the attention of someone in reality TV," Salnick said. "Michael Dippolito's hoax to achieve fame and fortune was a bad prank."

Dalia Dippolito expected her husband to tell investigators it was a hoax after she was arrested, defense lawyers said.

But when Mike Dippolito took the stand, he rejected the reality show idea.

"It's ridiculous," he said. "We are not here because of me."

Salnick had another card to play: He questioned how police went about their sting, noting that they invited along the TV show "COPS" to do the recordings.

"If this is a real murder plot as they say it is…nobody went to warn [Mike Dippolito]? To tell him? Instead they go the morning of the day with 'COPS' in tow?" Salnick asked.

As intriguing as the defense's case was, alternate juror Sandra Clutter said she saw no smoking gun that would show that Mike Dippolito did devise the murder-for-hire plot in an play for reality-TV stardom.

"It wasn't there," Clutter said. "I saw the prosecution's evidence as being overwhelming. I had no doubt."

Watch the full story, including incredible footage, on "Caught in the Act," a "20/20" special.

Follow 20/20 on Twitter