Crime and Courts

Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.
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Ex-Hubby of ‘Real Housewives of NJ' Star Hired Mobster to Assault Her Boyfriend, Feds Allege

Prosecutors allege Thomas Manzo asked a mobster to assault Dina Manzo's boyfriend in exchange for discounts on a wedding reception

"Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Dina Manzo's ex-husband and an alleged member of an organized crime family were charged by federal prosecutors Tuesday with conspiring to assault Manzo's then-boyfriend in an incident in 2015.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey said Thomas Manzo and John Perna faces multiple charges over the assault on her now-husband, David Cantin -- which they allege Manzo commissioned from Perna in exchange for a discounted wedding reception at Manzo's restaurant.

Prosecutors allege that Perna is a "made man" in the Lucchese mob family, and that he and an associate attacked Cantin in the parking lot of a strip mall in July 2015. Both Thomas Manzo and Perna face up to 20 years in prison on the most serious of the charges against them.

The 2015 assault that spawned Tuesday's charges was separate from a 2017 home invasion Dina Manzo and her husband suffered.

James Mainello faces 10 charges related to that May 2017 attack at the Holmdel couple’s townhouse, in which the robbers allegedly got away with $500 and Manzo’s engagement ring worth $60,000.

Mainello is allegedly one of the two masked intruders who attacked and robbed Manzo and her then-fiancé Cantin in a brutal home invasion, saying "That's what you get for f---ing with a guy from Paterson" during the attack, according to an affidavit. 

Cantin told investigators he and Manzo had just gotten home on May 13, 2017 when one of the suspects charged at him with a baseball bat and attacked him, according to an affidavit provided by prosecutors.

Manzo told investigators one of the suspects pushed her against a wall, covered her mouth, threw her to the floor and kicked her before taking her engagement ring off her finger.

Cantin at one point allegedly tried to shield Manzo's body from being kicked as both were on the floor.

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