John Perna, an alleged “soldier” in the Lucchese crime family pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal charge that he planned and carried out an attack on the husband of a “Real Housewives of New Jersey” cast member at the behest of the woman’s ex, according to the plea agreement seen by Insider.
Prosecutors say that Dina Manzo’s ex-husband, Thomas Manzo, hired Perna to carry out the attack in exchange for a discounted wedding reception at his New Jersey venue.
Manzo and Perna were both arrested in June on assault and racketeering charges. Federal prosecutors said that in 2015, Manzo hired Perna for the attack on his ex-wife’s then-boyfriend, David Cantin.
Perna is accused of following Cantin, who is now Dina Manzo’s husband, to a strip mall in Passaic County, New Jersey, and attacking him in the parking lot with a “slap jack” weapon, according to court documents.
In exchange for the violent assault, prosecutors say Manzo fulfilled his agreement to hold the wedding reception at Brownstone Restaurant, in Patterson, which he co-owns.
“The wedding and reception, held in August 2015, were attended by approximately 330 people, and included many members of the Lucchese Crime Family,” prosecutors said in the criminal complaint.
Perna was also charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud related to the submission of a false car insurance claim, which stem from allegations that Perna falsely reported his Mercedes-Benz was stolen and destroyed, but they were not included in Wednesday’s plea.
Prosecutors say he made a fraudulent report that his car was stolen when, instead, he and other members of the Lucchese crime family staged the theft and then set the car on fire.
Dina Manzo appeared as a cast member for three seasons of the Garden State edition of the “Housewives” series and had her own HGTV show, “Dina’s Party.” She and Thomas “Tommy” Manzo were long-separated before they officially divorced in 2016 and she married Cantin in 2017.
Talk of the Manzo family’s rumored mafia ties through Tommy Manzo’s father sometimes crept its way into the Housewives’ drama.