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Real Housewives' Jen Shah Reverses Course And Pleads Guilty To Fraud Charges, Could Face More Than A Decade In Jail

screenshot real housewives of salt lake city jen shah
(Image credit: Bravo)

A week before Jen Shah was set to stand trial on criminal fraud charges, the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star has surprisingly changed course, pleading guilty during her court appearance on July 11. Shah had consistently maintained her innocence after previously pleading not guilty to federal charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and now faces 11 to 14 years in prison.

At a hearing held on the morning of Monday, July 11, Jen Shah’s attorney Priya Chaudhry said her client wished to change her plea from not guilty to the opposite, with a plea agreement as part of the switch. The Bravo alum read a prepared statement in court to Judge Sidney Stein, ABC News reports. The statement read:

In 2012 to March 2021 in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, I agreed with others to commit wire fraud. I knew this was wrong. I knew many people were harmed and I’m so sorry.

Jen Shah’s plea agreement calls for a sentence of up to 14 years in prison, Variety reports. The maximum penalty would be 30 years in prison, but under the terms of the deal, sentencing guidelines fall between 11 and 14 years, although a judge could choose to go outside of those parameters. The plea also stipulates that Shah would pay more than $9 million in restitution to her victims. Her sentencing date is now scheduled for November 28.

In March 2021, Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’s Jen Shah was arrested amidst filming the show on federal charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering. She was accused of being involved in a nationwide telemarketing scheme that defrauded vulnerable populations. Others accused in the case, including Shah’s longtime assistant Stuart Smith, have already pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. 

The legal drama was documented on Season 2 of Real Housewives of Salt Lake City on Bravo, as well as on a Hulu original documentary. The Housewife & the Shah Shocker, available to Hulu subscribers, features law enforcement officials delving into the inner workings of the purported scam that affected elderly victims and vulnerable populations. 

The lead-up to Jen Shah's trial will reportedly be a main storyline when Season 3 airs, and while Variety reports that cameras were not present for the July 11 court date, she will continue to film on the show. You can find the first two seasons streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription.

Before Jen Shah's change of plea, jury selection for her trial had been set to begin on July 18 after a couple of delays. The RHSLC star had requested her date not be pushed back again, due to hardships created for family as well as Priya Chaudhry's small law firm. The recent turn of events is especially surprising, given how confident Shah has been about her innocence  — even going so far as to attempt to have the case dismissed twice. She also said on Instagram (via Page Six) that she was “looking forward” to her trial so everyone could “see the truth.”

It will be interesting to see what comes out in the aftermath of Jen Shah's unexpected announcement, as the reality star spends a few more months with her family ahead of what is likely to be a long time in prison.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.