July 12 (UPI) — “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah changed her plea to guilty in the first of two charges in a wire fraud case in Manhattan federal court Monday after previously pleading not guilty.
“In 2012 to March 2021 in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, I agreed to commit wire fraud,” Shah told Judge Sidney Stein, reading from a prepared statement, according to ABC News. “I knew this was wrong. I knew many people were harmed and I’m so sorry.”
Shah entered into the agreement with federal prosecutors to change her plea on the first charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud shortly after 10:30 a.m. in front of the Judge Stein, NBC News reported.
Under the plea agreement, she agreed to pay restitution to victims up to $9.5 million, along with forfeiture of $6 million, and she faces prison sentence of up to 14 years. The sentencing date is slated for Nov. 28.
Along with the wire fraud charge, she was also indicted on a second charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering in March 2021, which will be tossed under the plea agreement.
The plea came after the reality star’s attorney Priya Chaudhry told the judge at the morning hearing that she would like to withdraw her previous plea of not guilty, Variety reported.
The plea also came a week ahead of her trial scheduled to begin on July 18, but she will no longer be further prosecuted, according to a copy of the plea agreement obtained by NBC News.
The charge stems from the Department of Justice indicting her in March of last year, along with her assistant Stuart Smith, in a nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme that allegedly defrauded hundreds of victims, from 2012 to March 2021, many of them senior citizens.
Shah, 48, and Smith sold services to senior citizens claiming to make businesses more profitable, but they were actually “just fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims’ money,” Manhattan U.S. Audrey Strauss said in a DOJ statement.
The pair pleaded not guilty in April of last year to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Smith changed his plea to guilty to the charges against him in November.
Some other cast members from the “Real Housewives” franchise have faced legal troubles in the past, such as Teresa Giudice, and her husband Joe Giudice, in “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” who both pleaded guilty to tax fraud in 2014. In other legal troubles, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Erica Jayne’s estranged husband, disgraced attorney Tom Girardi, was disbarred after being accused of embezzling millions from clients.