“Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah continues to maintain she’s not guilty of the federal fraud and money laundering charges filed against her in March, but her case may have taken a hit on Friday. Her assistant and co-defendant, Stuart Smith, changed his plea to guilty at a New York court hearing.
Both Smith and Shah pleaded not guilty to the charges back in April.
According to People magazine, Smith — who has appeared several times on “RHOSLC” himself — pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing, conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstructing an official proceeding. (When the charges were announced, prosecutors said Smith and Shah had “defrauded hundreds of victims.”)
Smith’s sentencing was set for March 3, when he could be facing a maximum of 70 years in prison. He’s free on bail until then.
Smith read a statement in court admitting to his guilt but made no reference to Shah, who is facing the same charges. In a recent episode of “Real Housewives,” which was filmed before they were arrested, the two declared undying loyalty to one another. “I know that you’ll always be there, and I’ll always be here for you,” Smith said. No announcement was made about whether Smith will be a witness against Shah when she goes to trial, also scheduled for March.
While pleading guilty on Friday, Smith said he “knowingly and intentionally” worked with others, making false representations to people — “many of whom were over 50 years of age” — to entice them to invest in various schemes. He went on to say that “these telemarketing companies were misleading customers … by selling individuals ... information that purported to be services to enhance their business opportunities.”
However, Smith said, “The services sold were of no value and of no real benefit to the customer.”
Neither Smith’s lawyer nor Shah’s lawyers have commented publicly on his change of plea.