By David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.
Love is a battlefield, a popular song once told us, but to literally turn it into one is a bit extreme. Especially when one of the heartbroken parties involved turns to the Mafia for help in beating up his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. Yet that is the situation two ‘goodfellas’ from New Jersey found themselves in.
55-year-old Thomas Manzo is the ex-husband of Dina Cantin, one of the stars of the Bravo television show “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” Though the pair was separated, Manzo could not accept the fact that his former wife had moved on. When he found out she was dating again – worse, that she was serious about one guy – he was furious.
Beating in exchange for a lavish wedding reception
In the spring of 2015, he then allegedly turned to (now 43-year-old) Lucchese Mafia family soldier John Perna (right) to assault his ex-wife’s then-boyfriend in exchange for a deeply discounted wedding reception for Perna held at the Brownstone Restaurant in Paterson, New Jersey. Manzo is one of the owners of the upscale venue.
As a “made guy” and son of a Lucchese family capo, Perna, commanded his own mob crew and worked with his associates to plan and carry out the assault, which eventually took place in July of 2015. In exchange for this violent piece of work, the Lucchese mobster held a lavish wedding reception at Manzo’s restaurant for a fraction of the price, which was paid by another Lucchese associate and close friend of Manzo’s.
The wedding and reception, held in August 2015, were attended by approximately 330 people, and included many members of the Lucchese crime family.
Fraud and falsifying records
Separately, prior to the date that Perna was scheduled to begin serving a state prison sentence in January 2016, he falsely reported that his Mercedes Benz was stolen and destroyed. He filed an insurance claim for the destruction of the car in order for the balance due on the Mercedes. However, he had staged the vehicle theft and arson with other members of the Lucchese family.
On Tuesday, June 30, 2020, both men were arrested and charged 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 with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud related to the submission of the false car insurance claim.
Manzo was also charged with falsifying and concealing records related to the federal investigation of the July 2015 assault. Federal grand jury subpoenas that were sent to the Brownstone Restaurant seeking documents related to the August 2015 Perna wedding reception were not turned over by Manzo and he allegedly deliberately submitted a false document regarding the reception to the government, along with a false certification.
In November 2019, FBI agents executed a search warrant at the Brownstone Restaurant and seized invoices for the August 2015 Perna wedding reception and other relevant documents that were not previously turned over.
If convicted of these crimes, both men face several decades behind bars. All because of one man’s broken heart and jealous mind.
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