'RHOSLC' Star Jen Shah Pleads Guilty to Fraud in Telemarketing Scandal

Jen Shah was previously arrested in March 2021 for her involvement in a nationwide telemarketing scheme and pleaded not guilty the following month

Jen Shah is pleading guilty in her controversial telemarketing scheme scandal.

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City appeared in a New York court on Monday to take part in a change of plea hearing. She switched her original plea of not guilty to guilty, taking responsibility for the fraud and money laundering charges.

"Ms. Shah is a good woman who crossed a line," Priya Chaudhry, an attorney for the 48-year-old reality star told PEOPLE. "She accepts full responsibility for her actions and deeply apologizes to all who have been harmed. Ms. Shah is also sorry for disappointing her husband, children, family, friends, and supporters. Jen pled guilty because she wants to pay her debt to society and put this ordeal behind her and her family."

Per a Twitter thread from Inner City Press's Matthew Russell Lee, Shah told Judge Sidney H. Stein on Monday that she had committed "Wire fraud, offering services with little to no value."

She continued, "We used interstate telephones and emails. I knew many of the purchasers were over the age of 55. I am so sorry."

For more on Jen Shah pleading guilty, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

Judge Stein then asked the reasoning for these things being purchased, Shah explained she had offered "misrepresentations, regarding the value of the product or service, of which it had little to none."

"Did you know it was wrong and illegal?" asked Judge Stein, to which Shah responded, "Yes, your Honor."

A representative for Shah did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City - Jen Shah
Heidi Gutman/Bravo

Entering the guilty plea means Shah will not stand trial. She was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing. She faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison.

Shah is set to be sentenced on Nov. 28.

Shah was arrested in March 2021 alongside her assistant, Stuart Smith, for allegedly targeting individuals in a nationwide scheme. At the time, both Shah and Smith, 43, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

"Jennifer Shah, who portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on 'reality' television, and Stuart Smith, who is portrayed as Shah's 'first assistant,' allegedly generated and sold 'lead lists' of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss previously said in a press release. "In actual reality and as alleged, the so-called business opportunities pushed on the victims by Shah, Smith, and their co-conspirators were just fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims' money. Now, these defendants face time in prison for their alleged crimes."

Jen Shah
Jen Shah. Chad Kirkland/Bravo/ Getty

Shah and Smith, 43, initially pleaded not guilty in April. But her assistant changed his plea to guilty that November. Smith has not yet been sentenced.

Shah, on the other hand, had maintained her innocence until Monday's court hearing. Her legal team even attempted to get the charges dismissed in August 2021, but a judge denied the request.

"I think what people don't understand is, here in America, you're innocent until proven guilty. I'm innocent," she said in September 2021 on Bravo's Spilling Iced Tea Instagram Live. "And I believe that this is not just my test, this is everybody's test close to me and in my corner."

Jen Shah
Andrew Peterson/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

"How are my closest people around me going to respond, how are they going to show up or not show up?" she added.

Shah's ties to the scandal became a major storyline in RHOSLC's second season. It also became the subject of a Hulu documentary, titled The Housewife & the Shah Shocker.

Shah is an original cast member of RHOSLC, which premiered on Bravo in November 2020.

The reality star is married to Sharrieff Shah. The longtime pair share two sons, Sharrieff Shah Jr. and Omar.

Related Articles