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After Real Housewives Of Salt Lake City's Jen Shah Pleads Guilty To Fraud, One Co-Star Shares Why She Is 'Gutsy’

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(Image credit: Bravo)

For more than a year, reality star Jen Shah had been fighting the wire fraud and money laundering charges leveled at her by the federal government, which alleged that she spearheaded a nationwide telemarketing scheme that victimized vulnerable populations for years. She'd even attempted to get the case dismissed several times, but then Shah changed course by making the shocking decision to reverse her plea to a guilty one back in July. As a result, she now owes millions in fines and faces up to 30 years maximum in prison. Meredith Marks, her co-star on the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, has shared her thoughts in the wake of how that all played out, going so far as to say that Shah was in fact “gutsy,” as opposed to any harsher critiques.

Truth be told, Meredith Marks and Jen Shah had been feuding quite a bit in Season 2 of their hit Bravo reality series. There were rumors circulating that the former had tipped off the feds for Shah’s 2021 arrest, and the two also got in a tiff about an alleged robbery at Marks’ boutique. However, Marks and Shah later appeared to move on from their drama, and while talking on the August 17 episode of the #NoFilter podcast, Marks actually commended her former frenemy for even filming the show at all amidst her legal woes. She said,

I just think it's very risky, because if in fact, whether you are guilty or not, it is so easy to say something that could be spun to incriminate you. I just think it's kind of scary. I think it's really gutsy that she stayed on, I do. I don't think I could. I really don’t think I could under those circumstances.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alum Erika Jayne, who has also faced hefty legal scrutiny of late, has said as much about why she didn’t open up about the lawsuits hanging over her head while filming the show’s eleventh season. And as for Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Teresa Giudice – who actually went to prison in 2015 for similar charges as those of Jen Shah – her former attorney was candid, too, in saying that the controversial Salt Lake City star staying on TV wouldn’t help her any more than it did Giudice.

Still, Meredith Marks came under a bit of fire herself just prior to her castmate flipping her plea in court. Marks, Jen Shah and fellow co-star Heather Gay had all been spotted on social media feeds hanging out together in New York City in the lead up to the case going to trial, or so it was believed. Fans criticized the show of solidarity, which prompted Marks to defend everyone’s right to being “innocent until proven guilty” at the time, via her IG Stories. Nevertheless, Marks confirmed on the podcast that she didn’t know about Shah’s plea plans, adding that she was “surprised” by the last-minute move.

Obviously, her previous post about innocence until proof of guilt didn’t age well, and yet, the TV personality continues to stand behind her defense at that time. Marks explained:

There were a lot of really vicious comments, calling Jen a criminal and all these things. That may be the case if you want to say that now, but when someone hasn't pled guilty and they haven't had a trial, it's not up to me or anybody other than the jury in that case—because it was slated to be a jury trial—to make that determination. So, I was just kind of frustrated because I do have a law background and, to me, it just felt like this is not what our law says, so let's make it clear what our law does say.

As for how their friendship stands presently after Jen Shah admitted guilt in the crimes she’s accused of, Meredith Marks revealed that they remain friendly. She’s even “texted a little” with both Shah and their ousted RHOSLC castmate Mary Cosby. Although Marks did hint that those haven’t exactly been consistent relationships, as she’s been out of the country for several months in order to decompress from the show’s “dark” second season.

Alas, Season 3 of the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City is looking like it might be the last time we’ll see Jen Shah for a while, gutsy behavior or not. A judge will dole out her sentencing on November 28, right around the time the show is expected to premiere again. We’ll keep you updated on both highly anticipated situations as they develop. But for now, catch up on what else is returning to TV in 2022!

Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.