A Lucchese crime soldier was sentenced Thursday to a plea-bargained 2½ years in federal prison for throwing the current husband of former “Real Housewives of New Jersey” cast member Dina Manzo a beating in exchange for an extravagant gift from her well-known ex.
John Perna, 44, of Cedar Grove testified last October that Thomas Manzo hired him in 2015 to assault David Cantin, who was dating Dina at the time.
Perna told a federal judge he was armed with a “slapjack” when he and another Lucchese associate followed Cantin to a Passaic County strip mall and attacked him on July 18, 2015.
In exchange, Thomas Manzo staged a lavish wedding reception at the Brownstone a month later for a fraction of the price that Perna would have paid, he said.
Another Lucchese associate and a close friend of Manzo’s picked up the tab for the bash, attended by nearly 330 people, many of them members of the crime family, the U.S. attorney said.
Racketeering violence and conspiracy charges are still pending against Thomas Manzo, 56, of Franklin Lakes. He also is charged with falsifying and concealing records during the FBI investigation.
This raised the question Thursday whether Perna might testify against Manzo as part of his plea deal with the government.
Manzo is also awaiting trial in connection with a home invasion at Dina Manzo's Holmdel townhouse two weeks after she was engaged to Cantin in 2017.
Two men wearing masks broke in, beat the couple and stole a diamond ring worth $60,000 while telling them: “This is what happens when you f**k with a guy from Paterson," authorities said.
Because there’s no parole in the federal prison system, Perna will have to serve the entire sentence for his guilty plea to committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity.
In addition, U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty sentenced him to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $17,816 in restitution via videoconference from Newark.
Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig credited special agents of the FBI with the investigation leading to the plea, secured by Senior Litigation Counsel V. Grady O’Malley and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kendall Randolph of her Organized Crime and Gangs Unit.
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