Real Housewives’ Dina Manzo’s ex-husband ‘hired hitman to attack her new spouse’

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Real Housewives of New Jersey star Dina Manzo’s ex-husband has been arrested for allegedly hiring a hitman to assault her new husband.

Thomas Manzo, of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, was married to Dina for 11 years before their divorce was finalised in 2016.

An indictment released by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, states that Manzo and John Perna, an organised crime soldier, were arrested today on charges of planning and carrying out an assault on the star’s current husband, David Cantin.

The alleged offence took place when Dina and David were dating, following her split from Manzo.

The couple went on to get married in May 2019.

US Attorney Craig Carpenito says that Manzo and Perna, 43, of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, are each charged by indictment with committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity and conspiracy to commit a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity.

The indictment also charges Perna – identified in the indictment as a soldier in the Lucchese Crime Family – with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud related to the submission of a false car insurance claim, and Manzo with falsifying and concealing records related to the federal investigation of the violent crime.

Both defendants will make their initial appearances today by video conference before US Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor.

Documents for the case allege that in 2015, Manzo, one of the owners of the Brownstone Restaurant in the state, hired Perna to assault his ex’s then-boyfriend in exchange for a “deeply discounted wedding reception for Perna held at the upscale venue”.

Perna is alleged to have worked with his crew to plan and carry out the assault, which happened in July 2015.

In exchange for his actions, Perna went on to host a lavish wedding reception at Manzo’s pricey venue for a fraction of what it should have cost.

The wedding and reception, which was held in August 2015, is said to have been attended by 330 people, including members of the Lucchese Crime Family.

Perna is also charged with falsely reporting that his Mercedes Benz had been stolen and destroyed when he was scheduled to serve a state prison sentence in January 2016.

It’s said he filed an insurance claim for the destruction of the vehicle, but that he had staged the theft and arson of it with other members of the crime family.

Manzo’s charges for allegedly falsifying and concealing records relate to federal grand jury subpoenas that were sent to the Brownstone Restaurant seeking documents related to the Perna wedding reception.

It’s alleged he failed to turn over relevant documents regarding the reception to the government.

The violent crime in aid of racketeering activity count against both defendants carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The conspiracy to commit the violent crime in aid of racketeering activity count against both defendants carries a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud count against Perna carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years of in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The falsifying and concealing records related to a federal investigation count against Manzo carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Joe Denahan in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges and arrest.

Manzo’s lawyer, Michael Critchley, has said his client is “absolutely innocent”. He also said the allegations sound more like “a fictionalized plot of a reality TV show and will be proven to be nothing more than that”.