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Monday, January 29, 2024

Ex-husband of Real Housewives of NJ star looks to throw out charges he hired Lucchese Soldier for beating

He’s asking the court to fuggedaboutit.

The ex-husband of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Dina Manzo is looking to throw out a years-old racketeering case that accused him of hiring a Mafioso to rough up Manzo’s new beau.

Attorneys for Garden State restaurateur Tommy Manzo have asked a federal judge to dismiss the case against him because they say he’s been denied the “speedy trial” afforded to him by law.

The case centers on a 2020 indictment that says Manzo cut a deal with a Lucchese crime family soldier to rough up his ex-wife’s then-boyfriend, David Cantin, in a North Jersey parking lot five years earlier.

His alleged accomplice — reputed mafioso John Perna of Cedar Grove, New Jersey — has already served time behind bars for the “Sopranos”-style beatdown, Manzo’s attorneys say their client should be cleared because the court’s glacial pace has violated the federal Speedy Trial Act of 1974.

“The last day that Mr. Manzo could have been brought to trial on the Indictment in compliance with the [law] was December 10, 2022,” attorneys Marc Agnifilo and Zach Intrater wrote in a Jan. 19 federal court filing.

“But no effective continuance was signed until nearly eleven months later,” they continued. “There is no question that there has been a violation of the [Speedy Trial Act] in this case … the indictment against Mr. Manzo must be dismissed.”

In a Friday afternoon statement, Intrater added that Manzo is “a respected businessman who looks forward to these charges being dismissed so that he can get back to his family and the work that he loves.”

The US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey declined to comment Friday.

Manzo’s request is the latest salvo in a lengthy court battle that’s thrust one of New Jersey’s most infamous families into the spotlight yet again — for all the wrong reasons.

Slapjacks and dirty deals

Manzo, 58, of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, married Dina in an over-the-top 2005 wedding chronicled on the VH1 reality series “My Big Fabulous Wedding.

But the couple split in 2012 over his alleged infidelity, “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Kim DePaola told The Post in 2020 — though they wouldn’t officially divorce until 2016.

Federal prosecutors say Manzo got angry when Dina began seeing Cantin, an entrepreneur.

He allegedly hired Perna, reputedly a made man with the Lucchese crime family, to bust him up with a slapjack in front of a Passaic County strip mall, according to federal court documents.

In return, Manzo allegedly promised Perna a deeply-discounted wedding reception at The Brownstone, the well-known catering hall in Paterson, New Jersey, that his family had owned for decades.

At first, everything went according to plan, prosecutors claimed.

Perna grabbed a member of his crew and worked Cantin over on July 18, 2015, court documents said.

About a month later, The Brownstone hosted an opulent, 330-guest wedding for Perna’s family that was attended by a number of other crime family capos.

But of course, the feds eventually ruined it.

They arrested and indicted both men in the summer of 2020. A year later, Perna pleaded guilty to a charge of committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity and was sent to the slammer for nearly three years.

And Manzo, although free on bail, has languished with a federal albatross around his neck even as he runs his restaurant, which has long been a hangout for North Jersey politicos and bigwigs of all stripes.

The family business

Manzo’s father, Albert “Tiny” Manzo, bought The Brownstone from its original owners, the Clune family, back in the late 1970s, according to a history written by Rita Clune.

The Clunes had bought the “desolate, burned out” building just after World War II, she wrote. They turned it into a bar, then a banquet hall before selling to the 400-pound Tiny — whose nickname was steeped in irony — in the late 1970s.

An alleged mob enforcer, he’d once run for city mayor on a law-and-order platform whose main plank was bringing back public hangings at Passaic County Jail.

But the mobster’s fortunes eventually turned sour, and authorities found his naked body tied up in the trunk of his Lincoln Continental outside a Hillside, New Jersey supermarket in August 1983, with four bullet wounds cutting through his torso.

He and Gambino family soldier Peter A. Campisi had reportedly skimmed money from a mobbed-up casino on Staten Island — although rumors abound to this day about what actually led to his gangland execution.

His sons, Tommy and his brother Albert, have run the restaurant in the years since his death.

Other legal troubles

Of course, even if Manzo were to beat the federal rap, that doesn’t mean his problems are over.

He’s also embroiled in another court case involving his “Real Housewives of New Jersey” ex — this one stemming from charges that he and another man busted into Dina and Dave Cantin’s home in Holmdel, New Jersey, and beat them in 2017.

The Cantins — who married in June of that year — told cops that two men broke into their townhouse and attacked them as they walked in around 11 p.m. on May 13, according to NJ.com.

They hit Cantin with a bat and punched Dina several times, tied them up with zip ties and made off with cash and jewelry — including a new engagement ring.

During the attack, “an Italian guy with a North Jersey accent” told the pair: “This is what happens when you f–k with people from Paterson,” according to the affidavit.

Manzo and another man, James Mainello of Bayonne, were charged with robbery, burglary and aggravated assault for the crime.

But little information is available about the case, which has moved at a similarly slow pace and remains frozen until Manzo’s federal charges are resolved.

Christopher Adams, Manzo’s attorney for the state charges, did not respond to multiple inquiries requesting comment.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said the next hearing is April 29, but declined to comment further.

That’s about two weeks after the April 16 jury selection for his federal case, meaning the North Jersey legend’s legal battles could soon be coming to a close — for better or worse.



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