Ryan Naumenko came up with a plan to turn gangland widow Roberta Williams’ life into a reality television series called Mob Wives.
But before the first episode was even finished, he found himself a victim of a plot arranged by the former wife of underworld killer Carl Williams and her cronies.
Williams, 53, avoided a prison sentence on Friday over an incident that left Mr Naumenko fearing for his life.
She was instead ordered to be supervised for two years and complete any recommended mental health treatment or offender programs.
Mr Naumenko approached Williams via Instagram to pitch a reality series about her life in May 2019.
Within a month he had set up a Go Fund Me page and was claiming there was investor interest from Netflix.
He found a producer who put up $10,000 and arrangements were made to rent a filming location in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs.
In late June 2019 Williams wanted out, but she was convinced to stay on and a week later she spent a day filming for the show.
But over the coming days Williams and a man hired to film the program came to the conclusion they were being duped by Mr Naumenko, Victoria’s County Court heard.
Nothing he told them about money being raised turned out to be true.
On July 8 Williams, aggrieved by Mr Naumenko’s deception, came up with a plan to blackmail him for money she believed she and others were owed.
She arranged a friend to help her, and he offered to bring “the boys” – Hassan Al-Zwainy and Jake Sexton.
Mr Naumenko was lured to a Collingwood business under the guise of viewing edited footage.
He was instead assaulted and threatened over three terrifying hours.
He was forced to transfer ownership of his mother’s car, and to call his father and sister to get them to transfer $1000 to an account connected with the group.
Sexton threatened to break Mr Naumenko’s hands and said he had a friend who would burn him. One of the men pulled out a gun, the court heard.
“You ought to have walked away when you first had the instinct to,” Judge Fiona Todd told Williams, who had pleaded guilty to blackmail and recklessly causing injury.
While she wasn’t involved in the assault on Mr Naumenko, she was complicit through her presence and her recruitment of another.
Judge Todd decided not to order community work for Williams, who is the sole carer for her high level special needs son.
There was a need for mercy, she said.
Sexton, now 27, pleaded guilty to intentionally causing injury. He was convicted and ordered to complete 150 hours of community work.
Al-Zwainy, 26, admitted recklessly causing injury. He avoided conviction but was ordered to complete 60 hours of unpaid community work and pay an $800 fine.
Judge Todd found he had been uncomfortable with the unfolding assault but lacked the courage to do anything about it.
She noted he had taken responsibility for his role after another man was initially wrongly identified as a co-offender.