The Manzo family is once again forced to deny mob ties.
This comes a week after Tommy Manzo was arrested and pleaded not guilty to federal charges of hiring a Lucchese crime family soldier to beat up his ex-wife and former Real Housewives of New Jersey star, Dina Manzo’s new husband, David Cantin.
Tommy and Dina ended their marriage in 2012 but didn’t officially divorce until 2016. During that time, Dina started dating her now-husband, Dave.
However, Tommy wasn’t out of Dina’s life altogether. In July 2015, Tommy was “upset” about Dina and Dave’s relationship, so he allegedly hired someone to carry out “an assault” on Dave.
Dina and Tommy married in 2005, in an over the top wedding, which was featured on VH1’s “My Big Fabulous Wedding.” Four years later, the Manzo’s took their family drama to reality TV when they joined the Real Housewives of New Jersey. The show was a complete family affair as it starred Dina, her older sister Caroline Manzo, and their sister-in-law Jacqueline Laurita, who married Dina and Caroline’s brother Chris Laurita.
As any OG RHONJ fan knows, Caroline is infamous for saying, “Let me tell you about my family, we’re thick as thieves.”
And she’s not lying. While Caroline and Dina are sisters, they were also sister-in-laws at one point in time- yep, you read that right. Dina’s ex-husband Tommy is the brother of Caroline’s husband, Albert Manzo. Albert and Tommy co-own the Manzo family’s banquet hall – The Brownstone,
“I grew up with Dina, I knew her since she was 7,” Albert told The Post, “We don’t want a hair on her head harmed. She is still my sister-in-law. She always will be.”
Meanwhile, Caroline told ExtraTV that the family is “heartbroken” over the charges.
“This is family on both sides,” she said. “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.”
It’s unclear why Tommy is being charged five years after the alleged crime, but his lawyer Michael Critchley insists: “The allegations are right out of a fictional plot of a reality-TV show.”
However, allegations of the Manzo family’s ties to the mob are nothing new. If RHONJ fans remember, the family’s alleged mob ties were brought up at the season one reunion.
The family always has and continues to deny any claims that they are connected to the mob.
Rumors of the Manzo family’s mob ties started with the murder of Tommy and Albert’s father, Albert “Tiny” Manzo Sr.
The 400-pound “larger than life” character was executed in an alleged mob hit in August 1983. Manzo Sr was found “in the trunk of his Lincoln Continental outside a supermarket in Hillside, NJ: naked, his arms and legs tied with plastic, with four bullet holes in his torso.” It apparently took police several hours to get Tiny Manzo’s body out his car.
Manzo Sr and Gambino family soldier Peter A. Campisi reportedly skimmed money from a mob-tied casino in Staten Island.
In the book, Undercover Cop, author Mike Russell claims that Tiny Manzo was “the biggest enforcer in Jersey.” A criminal defense attorney, on the other hand, says that the line between “made guys and the goombas they hung out with” can be a blurry one.
“That’s kind of how they do business in Paterson,” the attorney said. “These people are not exactly Boston Brahmins.”
Yet, Albert Manzo insists neither his father nor his brother have any ties to the mob. In fact, Albert says it’s all a misunderstanding and that the only thing his brother and father are guilty of his is hard work.
“My father was no gangster,” Albert said. “He was a wonderful, hardworking man. He was never accused of anything else pertaining to being a gangster. The shame of it is that our family were the victims of a murder which was never solved, and it was spun as a mob hit.”
“I believe my brother is innocent. My father was, too,” Albert said. “It’s awful what happened to Dina’s husband. We just have to hope that whoever really did this is found and goes to jail.”
Albert also noted that his brother is currently out on bail and back at work, helping him run The Brownstone.
The current family drama plaguing the Manzo family stems from Dina and Tommy’s volatile marriage. Their union was doomed from the start as documented on VH1’s “My Big Fabulous Wedding.” On the wedding special, Dina admitted that Tommy had cheated on her multiple times.
Sources close to the family say the union was a case of Dina loving Tommy too much and Tommy not appreciating Dina enough.
“It was Dina who decided she wanted them to split,” Albert said. “It was never Tommy. Tommy wanted her. He wanted them to stay together.”
According to the indictment, Tommy allegedly hired John Perna, a known soldier of the Lucchese crime family, to attack Dina’s then-boyfriend and current husband Dave in exchange for a discount wedding reception at The Brownstone.
In July 2015, Perna, and another alleged member of the Lucchese crime family, followed Dave to a strip mall in Passaic County, where they then attacked him with a slapjack.
Dave suffered “serious bodily injury” and a “permanent facial scar” as a result of the attack.
Meanwhile, former RHONJ staple Kim DePaola knows the real reason Dina finally decided to leave Tommy.
“[The divorce] is not on Dina, it’s all on Tommy,” DePaola told The Post. “Dina was madly in love with him, and she sat home every night waiting for him. She was a good wife. He was off at The Brownstone doing his thing if you catch what I’m saying.”
Tommy apparently “did his thing” with so many women that Dina finally confronted one of them who told her “take it up with your husband,” according to DePaola.
So, why did Tommy go after Dina’s new man?
“Here’s the thing, Tommy is actually not a bad guy,” DePaola said. “He’s mild-mannered, very lovely to people at The Brownstone. I think it was a man thing. They want what they can’t have. He didn’t want Dina when she was starving for attention and was dying for his love, but when she leaves him and goes off with a new, younger guy? His ego couldn’t take it. He got too wrapped up, that’s my take.
“It’s hard not to notice that her new guy looks like a younger version of Tommy. I’ll leave it at that.”
As for the Manzo family’s rumored mob ties, DePaola says that neither Tommy nor Albert are “in the life.” She also says that Albert Sr wasn’t a “full-on gangster” but “did something the full-ons didn’t like,” which ultimately lead to his murder.
“When you’re a full-on, you have to abide by some rules and regulations of the life,” DePaola said. “From what I know, [Tiny] maybe did something that was not following the rules the full-ons had to follow, and they wanted to send a message.”
Now people are wondering if the 2017 attack on Dina and Dave in their Holmdel, NJ home may be connected to the 2015 attack on Dave.
In 2017, Dina and Dave returned to their home and were confronted by two men. One man struck Dave several times with a baseball bat while Dina was punched multiple times by the other attacker. The two were then tied up while the thieves made off with cash and jewelry. Dave was able to free himself and call 911 eventually.
At the time, Dina and Dave were residing in California and were only home for the weekend to attend Dina’s got daughter Audriana Giudice’s First Holy Communion. Audriana is the daughter of RHONJ star Teresa Giudice.
The attack featured “an Italian guy with a North Jersey accent.” He reportedly told Dina and Dave: “This is what happens when you f–k with people from Paterson.”
In 2019, James “Jimmy Balls” Mainello, 52, of Bayonne was arrested and charged in connection to the home invasion. Yet his lawyer Marco Laracca told The Post that his client is innocent and is hoping to be “fully exonerated.”
DePaola says the attack had to be ordered by someone who knows Dina.
“They were only home from California for two days for the christening. Isn’t it kind of a coincidence that the home invasion happened then? Who else but people in Dina’s circle knew they would even be home?” said DePaola. “That type of burglar does a little homework. That house had been empty.”
Dina and Dave left Jersey immediately after the attack and haven’t been back to the Garden State since.
“Dina’s been through a lot, and I think she’s been scared s–tless by everything that’s happened,” DePaola said. “You know what? She was a girl looking for love, and she finally found it. Tommy didn’t want her until she was gone. It’s his loss. She came out ahead.”
Stay tuned for more on this developing story.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey will return to Bravo in late 2020 or early 2021.