What to Know
- The man accused of attacking Dina Manzo and her then-fiancé during a violent home invasion and robbery has a lengthy criminal past.
- James Mainello has 36 previous criminal convictions to his name, including burglary, robbery, theft, fencing and drugs
- James Mainello faces 10 charges related to the May 2017 attack, in which the robbers took $500 and Manzo's $60,000 engagement ring
The man accused of attacking “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Dina Manzo and her then-fiancé during a violent home invasion and robbery two years ago has an extensive criminal record, according to court records.
James Mainello faces 10 charges related to the 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.
This is hardly the first time Mainello has dealt with the justice system however, with 36 previous criminal convictions to his name. He has served a 10-year prison sentence for a federal robbery conspiracy charge, and has been convicted on a slew of other charges such as burglary, robbery, theft, fencing and drugs.
He also faced an aggravated assault charge in which he allegedly used a baseball bat during an attack.
The first of his long line of convictions came in 1993, and has six disorderly persons summonses over the years. Mainello got a speeding ticket in Staten Island in 2017 — allegedly driving the same car identified by E-ZPass and video records that used the Garden State Parkway after the attacks on May 3, 2017.
Mainello, 51, is allegedly one of the two masked intruders who attacked and robbed Manzo and her then-fiancé David Cantin in a brutal home invasion, saying "That's what you get for f---ing with a guy from Patterson" during the attack, according to an affidavit.
Cantin told investigators he and Manzo, who have since married and were not in court Tuesday, 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. Both victims were secured to the floor with zip-ties and "struggled for quite a bit," said prosecutor Caitlin Sidley.
Sidley stated in court Tuesday that Mainello poses a danger to the community because he was "willing to enter the home of strangers" and commit a violent crime.
The other alleged intruder has not been identified, and prosecution said there are no connections between Mainello and the accomplice.
Defense attorney Marco Laracca said his client "intends to fight these charges to the very end."
Although the state says it has DNA evidence linking Mainello to the crime, his attorney said the victim's description of a 5'11 assailant does not fit his client, who is roughly 6'3.
Judge James McGann denied release for Mainello, who lives in Bayonne, and said if convicted he faces 20 years to life in prison.