'Real Housewives of New Jersey' alum Dina Manzo's ex-husband hired mobster to attack current husband: Feds

Thomas “Tommy” Manzo, the ex-husband of former Real Housewives of New Jersey star Dina Manzo, has been indicted for assault and other crimes in a wild story that certainly isn’t scripted for Bravo cameras.

Tommy was arrested in New Jersey on Tuesday along with an alleged member of the Lucchese crime family for supposedly having Dina’s current husband, Dave Cantin, attacked in 2015. Prosecutors claim Tommy hired John Perna, “an organized crime soldier,” to assault Dina’s then-boyfriend in exchange for a lavish wedding reception.

Dina Manzo's ex-husband Tommy is accused of hiring a hitman to assault her then-boyfriend, Dave Cantin.
Dina Manzo's ex-husband Tommy is accused of hiring a hitman to assault her then-boyfriend, Dave Cantin. (Photo: Getty Images)

According to the indictment viewed by Yahoo Entertainment, Tommy was “upset that [Cantin] had an ongoing relationship with his former wife” and “planned to have a violent assault committed on [Cantin] that would leave a permanent facial scar.” Prosecutors say Perna accepted the job in order to “maintain and enhance his position with” the Lucchese family.

Tommy, 55, and Perna, 43, are each charged with committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity and conspiracy to commit a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity. Perna is also charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud related to the submission of a false car insurance claim, and Tommy with falsifying and concealing records related to the federal investigation of the violent crime.

Tommy, one of the owners of the Brownstone Restaurant in Paterson, N.J., allegedly hired Perna to attack Cantin in the spring of 2015. In return, Perna received “a deeply discounted wedding reception” at the venue, the U.S. Attorney’s Office claims. The attack allegedly happened in July 2015.

According to the indictment, Perna followed Cantin to a strip mall in New Jersey and attacked him in the parking lot. Perna allegedly “used a dangerous weapon, namely a slap jack, with the intent to inflict serious permanent injury” on Cantin.

“In return for the commission of the violent assault on [Cantin], defendant Thomas Manzo fulfilled his agreement to hold the reception at a free or discounted price,” the indictment reads.

Perna’s wedding celebration took place at the Brownstone Restaurant in August 2015. The government states that the wedding and reception “were attended by approximately 330 people and included many members of the Lucchese Crime Family.”

Tommy and Dina Manzo separated in 2012 after five years of marriage. The divorce wasn’t finalized until 2016, after she began dating Cantin.

“Divorce is never easy,” Dina, 48, told Radar Online in 2016. “It was a very emotional divorce for me.

“Of course it’s heartbreaking, but things happen the way they’re supposed to,” she added. “It was a long time coming. I think we just both had different ideas of what a marriage should be.”

As for Cantin, she told the outlet, “We’re both heavily involved in pediatric cancer — [we met] through a project for that. ... He’s just the most loving man. He’s really an awesome person and very caring. He treats my family so good, and he’s a great dad to his kids and I see that, how important that is.”

Dina has a 24-year-old daughter from her first marriage to George Hadjiapostoli.

Dina starred on the first two seasons of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, which premiered in 2009. She returned in 2014 for Season 6, but exited the show in 2015 to move to California. She frequently returned to New Jersey where, in 2017, she and Cantin were attacked in a brutal home invasion. They secretly wed months later, but didn’t publicly confirm the news until 2019. Sunday marked their third anniversary.

Dina has yet to comment on the news of Tommy’s arrest. He faces a possibility of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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