Change of plans. Jen Shah pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud after previously entering a not guilty plea.
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star, 48, made the change during a court hearing in New York City on Monday, July 11. Because the Bravo personality agreed to plead guilty to the wire fraud charge, the U.S. Attorney’s office agreed to drop the second charge against her: conspiracy to commit money laundering.
“In 2012 to March 2021 in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere I agreed with others to commit wire fraud,” the reality star told Judge Sidney Stein on Monday, reading from a prepared statement, according to Good Morning America. “I knew this was wrong. I knew many people were harmed and I’m so sorry.”
When the judge asked Shah if she knew her actions were “wrong and illegal,” the Shah Beauty founder replied, “Yes, your honor.”
According to NBC News, Shah entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors that called for a prison sentence of up to 14 years. The agreement also stipulated that she would have to pay victims up to $9.5 million in restitution. Shah previously faced up to 30 years in prison for the wire fraud charge and 20 additional years for the money laundering charge.
The TV personality and her first assistant, Stuart Smith, were arrested in March 2021 for their alleged roles in a telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims, many of whom were 55 or older. Days after their arrest, both Shah and Smith pleaded not guilty to all charges.
In November 2021, however, Smith changed his plea and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. “He admitted to hiding ownership and money, defrauding elderly people and lying to the Federal Trade Commission in a deposition, which constituted perjury,” attorney Ronald Richards, a former NBC legal analyst who is not affiliated with the case, told Us Weekly at the time.
Shah, for her part, repeatedly denied any wrongdoing throughout season 2 of RHOSLC, which premiered in September 2021. “What I have been accused of is absolutely the complete opposite of anything I would ever do in my life,” she said during one episode. “If I have any fault, it is because I am too giving and I help too many people.”
She also addressed the case in her season 2 tagline, which was: “The only thing I’m guilty of is being Shah-mazing.”
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Shah’s sentencing is scheduled for November 28.
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