Alleged Mobster Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Former RHONJ Star Dina Manzo's Husband
Alleged Lucchese crime family soldier John Perna has pleaded guilty to assaulting Dina Manzo's husband in 2015.
According to a release issued on Wednesday by New Jersey U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, Perna, 43, admitted via video conference to planning and carrying out an aggravated assault on David Cantin, the current husband of the former Real Housewives of New Jersey star.
Prosecutors allege that her ex-husband, Thomas Manzo, hired Perna in 2015 to assault Cantin, who was Dina's boyfriend at the time, "in exchange for a deeply discounted wedding reception to be held at Manzo's upscale Passaic County venue."
"Perna, who is a 'made man' in the Lucchese Crime Family, planned and carried out the assault on July 18, 2015, with the help of a member of his crew," the release states. "Perna was armed with a 'slapjack' during the assault. In exchange for committing the assault, Perna held a lavish wedding reception at Manzo's restaurant, just one month later, for a fraction of the price he would otherwise have paid. The reception was attended by over 330 guests, many of whom were members of the Lucchese Crime Family."
The charge Perna pleaded guilty to — a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity — carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for April 28, 2021.
In a statement to PEOPLE on Thursday, Thomas' lawyer said, "Mr. Perna, during his plea of guilty, never mentioned that he was involved in this activity, directly or indirectly, with Mr. Manzo. To me, that is evidence of exoneration of Mr. Manzo."
A lawyer for Dina and her husband told PEOPLE his clients had no comment at this time.
In June, Thomas, 55, pleaded not guilty to paying Perna for the attack. At the time, his bail was set at $100,000 and he was ordered not to have any contact with the victims, including Dina and Cantin, unless an attorney is present. His trial is tentatively scheduled for April 2021, his lawyer confirmed on Thursday.
Thomas and Dina, 48, split in 2012 after seven years of marriage. Dina, who is mom to 24-year-old daughter Lexi from a previous relationship, married Cantin on June 28, 2017.
"We are heartbroken," said Caroline, who is married to Thomas' brother Albert Manzo. "This is family on both sides. I want to know the truth and my allegiance will lie with the truth."
"We don't run from things like this, we address them, and I feel comfortable with that because we are being painted with a brush that does not reflect who we are as people," she added.