Trouble in Utah. Jen Shah‘s assistant Stuart Smith changed his plea to guilty in the pair’s ongoing legal case about their alleged involvement in a telemarketing scheme, Us Weekly can confirm.
“He pleaded guilty to three counts: conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice,” attorney Ronald Richards, a former NBC legal analyst who is not affiliated with the case, told Us of Smith, 43, on Friday, November 19.
Smith, who faces a maximum prison sentence of 30 years, will be sentenced in March 2022. “He admitted to hiding ownership and money, defrauding elderly people and lying to the Federal Trade Commission in a deposition, which constituted perjury,” Richards added.
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star, 48, and her Shah Squad member were arrested in March and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
“Jennifer Shah, who portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on ‘reality’ television, and Stuart Smith, who is portrayed as Shah’s ‘first assistant,’ allegedly generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a press release at the time. “In actual reality and as alleged, the so-called business opportunities pushed on the victims by Shah, Smith, and their co-conspirators were just fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims’ money.”
Days after the arrest, both Smith and Shah pleaded not guilty to the charges. In August, however, court documents suggested that Smith planned to change his plea.
“Mr. Smith is working diligently towards a resolution of his case,” his attorney wrote in a letter to the U.S. District judge at the time. “I am confident his case will be resolved without the necessity of a trial and I hereby request that we be excused from the August 10, 2021.”
Richards speculated at the time that the filing was a sign Smith was going to “most likely flip” on his former boss. Shah’s trial was originally scheduled to begin in October 2021 but was pushed back to March 2022, seemingly because of delays related to coronavirus protocols.
Earlier this year, the Bravo personality asked a judge to throw out the entire case against her, claiming that her dry contact lenses caused her to waive her Miranda rights without understanding what she was doing. That request was denied.
Shah’s arrest aired during a November episode of RHOSLC. She and her castmates were preparing to leave for Vail, Colorado, when she received a phone call that led her to turn off her microphone. The Utah native then left the group, telling the other Housewives that her husband, Sharrieff Shah Jr., was in the hospital with internal bleeding.
After the episode, Jen slammed her castmates via social media for what they said about her during the show. “Y’all see who these ladies really are,” she wrote in a message posted to her Instagram Stories on Monday, November 15. “They have zero compassion for me and my family. It takes an evil person to take delight in what we’re going through. I am [100 percent] innocent and I hope the ladies each learn a valuable lesson from this and stop judging others.”
With reporting by Diana Cooper