RHONJ's Caroline Manzo Speaks Out After Sister Dina's Ex-Husband's Arrest: 'We Are Heartbroken'
"This is family on both sides," Caroline Manzo said
One day after Thomas Manzo was arrested for allegedly paying a mobster to attack Dina's current husband, David Cantin, in 2015, the Real Housewives of New Jersey alumna spoke out about the situation.
"We are heartbroken," Caroline, 58, told Extra TV. "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," Caroline said.
Caroline is married to Albert Manzo, who is the brother of Thomas. Both Albert and Thomas are owners of New Jersey’s Brownstone event hall.
Dina, 48, and Thomas split in 2012 after seven years of marriage. Dina, who is mom to 24-year-old daughter Lexi, married Cantin on June 28, 2017.
On Tuesday, Thomas and John Perna, an alleged organized crime soldier, were arrested in New Jersey on charges of planning and carrying out an assault on Cantin five years ago in exchange for a discounted wedding reception.
Thomas, 55, "was a co-owner of a restaurant and wedding venue (the 'Venue') in Passaic County at which defendant John Perna was scheduled to hold a wedding reception on August 16, 2015 (the 'Reception'). Many of the guests invited to the reception were members of the Lucchese Crime Family," the indictment states.
According to the documents, Thomas was "upset" that Cantin "had an ongoing relationship with" his ex-wife, Dina, and "planned to have a violent assault committed on" Cantin "that would leave a permanent facial scar."
In early 2015, Thomas "offered to hold the reception for free or at a deeply discounted price if" Perna, 43, "would commit or cause to be committed a violent assault" on Cantin, the indictment claims.
Later that year, "on or about July 18, 2015," Perna and an accomplice followed Cantin "to a strip mall in Passaic County, New Jersey," where the pair "attacked" Cantin "in the parking lot," according to the indictment.
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, Thomas "fulfilled his agreement to hold the reception at a free or discounted price," the documents claim.
Both Thomas and Perna were charged by indictment with committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity and conspiracy to commit a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Additionally, the indictment charged Perna with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud related to the submission of a false car insurance claim. Thomas has been charged with falsifying and concealing records related to the federal investigation of the violent crime, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of New Jersey said.
"The violent crime in aid of racketeering activity count against both defendants carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy to commit the violent crime in aid of racketeering activity count against both defendants carries a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud count against Perna carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years of in prison and a $250,000 fine," a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of New Jersey stated. "The falsifying and concealing records related to a federal investigation count against Manzo carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine."
Thomas pleaded not guilty to charges during a Zoom court appearance on Tuesday, Page Six reported. His bail has been set for $100,000. If he posts bail, Thomas will be supervised and forced to surrender his passport.
Perna also pleaded not guilty, Page Six reported.
At the time of the alleged assault, Dina and Cantin, an entrepreneur, were dating.
In May 2017, a brutal home invasion left her and Cantin badly beaten and bound in their New Jersey townhouse. After the attack, Dina and Cantin moved permanently to the West Coast.
Last spring, an arrest was made in the case. Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced in a press release that James Mainello had been taken into custody at his home for his alleged involvement in the invasion.
Mainello is one of two men who police suspect brutally attacked the couple before tying them up and making off with personal belongings, such as cash and jewelry, including Dina's $60,000 engagement ring.
Mainello faces multiple charges, including first-degree robbery, second-degree burglary, second-degree aggravated assault and third-degree criminal restraint. He is scheduled to appear in Monmouth County Superior Court this week, with an additional detention hearing also expected in order to “determine whether he will be released or detained pending trial,” according to the release.
If convicted, Mainello faces prison time, ranging anywhere from 18 months to 20 years — though the specific times vary depending on each degree of crime or offense.