By Michael Fleeman
Updated May 05, 2014 12:00 PM
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On Oct. 1, 2013, over a lunch of mint chicken and noodles at a restaurant in Los Angeles, vitamin-supplement tycoon Dino Guglielmelli made what authorities would later describe as a desperate and deadly move. Unaware that his dining companion Richard Fuhrmann was wearing a wire supplied by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, Guglielmelli allegedly offered him $80,000 to murder Guglielmelli’s estranged wife, Monica Olsen. “I’ll be happy when it’s over,” Guglielmelli is heard saying on the recording moments after allegedly making his offer. Instead, the sting operation landed Guglielmelli in jail on $10 million bail—and facing charges of attempted murder and solicitation of murder that could leave him behind bars for life with the possibility of parole after seven years.

Seven months after that fateful lunch, Guglielmelli is scheduled to head to trial in May with virtually every part of his life in perilous disarray. He has lost his once-prosperous company Creation’s Garden. His two daughters with Olsen, Cienna, 9, and Vendela, 6 (whom they raised with Loreal, 15, Guglielmelli’s daughter from a previous marriage), are now in Olsen’s custody. And while Guglielmelli, 52, languishes in a cell, Olsen, 32, is living in their lavish estate in Canyon Country, north of L.A. – just the sort of asset Guglielmelli hoped to keep Olsen from “winning” in their bitter divorce fight by putting a hit on her, Fuhrmann told authorities last year. As for Olsen, a stunning former model, she’s “living in fear,” says her spokesman Sean Borg. “Monica could be dead right now, buried in the desert.”

The arrest accelerated the epic downfall of a once high-flying businessman who, for years, seemed unbeatable. A farm boy from Walla Walla, Wash., Guglielmelli scored with Creation’s Garden, a natural-cream and nutritional-supplement company that at one time commanded $48 million in annual revenue, according to court papers. After two brief failed marriages, Guglielmelli met Olsen in the early 2000s. A Romanian-born beauty and runway model who appeared in the pages of fashion magazines, Olsen fell hard for the handsome tycoon. “He’s my heartthrob,” she told friends. “I’m so in love with Dino.”

Married in April 2003, they shared what Guglielmelli would describe in court papers as “a very good lifestyle” in a $3 million estate and three pricey cars: a Maserati, a Porsche and a BMW. At the same time, Guglielmelli offered financial support for his wife’s Skin by Monica Olsen line. Then came a double whammy: the recession and the FDA’s tightening of regulations on nutritional supplements, according to court papers. By 2011 Guglielmelli’s company was imploding—and so was his marriage. Faced with her husband’s dark moods and what she believed were his attempts to sabotage her business, Olsen “started to realize the man she married was not the man she thought she married,” says her friend Elena Eustache. In October 2012 Guglielmelli filed for divorce. In filings, he described Olsen as a manipulator and a bad mother who “never made dinner for the children,” instead leaving nannies to do “most of what she claims to have done.”

Three months later Olsen was out of the house and Guglielmelli was telling police that she had attacked him with a knife. After that allegation, Olsen lost custody of her girls and was reduced to weekly supervised visits as she and celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos fought the charge. Reduced to crashing with friends, she claimed in court papers that Guglielmelli was stiffing her on back alimony while lavishing $200,000 worth of gifts on a new girlfriend. She also claimed that Guglielmelli had staged the assault by cutting himself in the bathroom. By late 2013, “things were changing more positively,” says her divorce attorney Ronald Lebow. Olsen beat the domestic violence rap, and Lebow believes she was about to be awarded custody and $300,000 in back alimony at a hearing scheduled for Oct. 10.

But by then Guglielmelli was behind bars, suspected of plotting a murder. His alleged intended hit man, Fuhrmann, paints Guglielmelli as a man who “has to win.” At a pretrial hearing, Anthony Brooklier, defense attorney for Guglielmelli, sought to paint Fuhrmann as an opportunist and a liar who invented defense-industry contacts to impress Guglielmelli. The lawyer later called Fuhrmann a “false friend who set Guglielmelli up.” With the trial poised to start, Olsen is keeping a low profile with her daughters. “This has been the worst nightmare of her life,” says Borg.”All she wants is to be happy again.”