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Ex-husband of ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ star Dina Manzo hired mobster to assault boy

Thomas Manzo, ex-husband of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Dina Manzo, allegedly hired a mobster to assault her current husband, prosecutors charged.
Continue reading on ABC News

‘Real Housewives’ star in hot seat over alleged fake house-flipping

Thomas Manzo, the ex-husband of a “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” star, allegedly hired a Lucchese family mobster to assault the reality star’s current husband, federal prosecutors in Newark charged Tuesday.

Manzo allegedly hired John Perna in 2015 to commit a “violent assault” on the boyfriend of his former wife, Dina Cantin (formerly Dina Manzo), in exchange for a free or “deeply discounted” wedding reception at Manzo’s catering hall, Brownstone Restaurant, in Paterson, New Jersey, according to court documents.

Manzo was “upset” about his former wife’s new relationship and wanted the assault to “leave a permanent facial scar,” court records state.

Perna, who was identified in the indictment as a member of the Lucchese crime family, also allegedly agreed to commit the assault to “maintain and enhance” his position within the enterprise, according to court documents.

Manzo, 55, of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, and Perna, 43, of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, were arrested Tuesday and each charged with committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity and conspiracy to commit a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity.

Manzo was additionally charged with falsifying and concealing records related to the federal investigation of the alleged assault.

Perna allegedly assaulted Cantin’s boyfriend in July 2015 at a Passaic County strip mall parking lot using a “slap jack” with “the intent to inflict serious permanent injury,” court records state.

The following month, Manzo’s venue hosted a “lavish” wedding reception for Perna attended by about 330 guests, including “many members of the Lucchese crime family,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.

The indictment alleges that in August 2019, Manzo then falsified the invoice for Perna’s wedding reception and failed to provide records to investigators in response to a subpoena “with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence” an FBI investigation. In November 2019, FBI agents seized invoices for Perna’s wedding reception, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Perna was also charged Tuesday with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud for a separate incident.

Both men face up to 43 years in prison and $750,000 in fines for their three counts.

Manzo and Perna made their first appearance in federal court Tuesday via a videoconference. They were released on $100,000 unsecured appearance bonds, NJ.com reported.

ABC News was unable to reach their attorneys. Manzo’s attorney, Michael Critchley has said his client is “absolutely innocent,” and the allegations “more resemble a fictionalized plot of a reality TV show,” according to The Associated Press.

Manzo and Cantin were married in 2007 at the Brownstone. Their wedding was documented on the VH1 series “My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding.” Cantin starred on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” from 2009 to 2010 and in 2014 under the name Dina Manzo. The two separated in 2012 and finalized their divorce in February 2016. Cantin and her current husband, David Cantin, married in 2017.

The 2015 assault is not related to a 2017 burglary involving the reality star and her then fiance.

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