RHOSLC’s Jen Shah just changed her legal strategy at the last minute

In a shocking twist — even by Bravo standards — The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah was arrested while filming in 2021. As cameras rolled on the rest of the cast preparing to travel to Vail, federal agents rushed the vehicle in hopes of finding Shah, who had just fled the scene. Authorities eventually located and arrested Shah and her longtime assistant, Stuart Smith.

Shah was accused of running a telemarketing scheme that scammed unsuspecting victims out of thousands of dollars. Shah’s company reportedly offered the alleged victims business opportunities designed to collect their personal information, according to Us Weekly. Shah then reportedly turned back and sold this information to other scammers for a profit. In the past, there have been questions about the Shahs’ mysterious wealth, as her opulent lifestyle seemed at odds with her husband’s career as a college football coach. Shah mostly dodged the questions, claiming that she did something vague with internet ads.

After her arrest, Shah was released on $1 million bail, according to Page Six. She then pleaded not guilty to multiple federal charges related to wire fraud. Now, nearly 18 months after her arrest, Shah has begun tracing her legal defense on a large scale.

Jen Shah’s future is uncertain

When it finally came time for Jen Shah to appear in court, the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star surprised everyone by changing her plea from not guilty to guilty, according to ABC News. Ever since her first arrest, Shah was adamant that this whole thing was a huge misunderstanding. “What I’ve been accused of is the complete opposite of anything I would ever do in my life,” she said during a “RHOSLC” episode, per Us Weekly. “If I’m wrong, it’s because I give too much and help too many people.”

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However, during a pre-trial hearing, Shah admitted in court that there had been no misunderstanding and pleaded guilty to wire fraud. “I knew that was wrong. I knew a lot of people were hurt and I’m so sorry,” Shah said in a New York court, per ABC. A guilty plea means Shah is eligible for up to 14 years in prison – although she has not yet been convicted. As part of the plea agreement, Shah agreed to pay victims of their crimes more than $9.5 million and an additional $6.5 million in penalties, according to NBC News.

Shah’s “RHOSLC” castmates have shown their support by joining her in New York and battling her critics on social media, according to Page Six. In a now-deleted Instagram Story, Meredith Marks reminded fans that Shah was “innocent until proven guilty.” Now that Shah has pleaded guilty, it’s unclear if her castmates will continue to stand by her as she faces a potential jail sentence.