Jen Shah might have just one less member of the ‘Shah Squad.’
‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ star’s assistant Stuart Smith has pleaded guilty to the charges against him regarding his involvement in a nationwide telemarketing scheme.
After previously pleading not guilty alongside the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star, Smith, 43, changed his plea to guilty during a Friday appearance before Southern District of New York Judge Sidney H. Stein.
Smith was arrested and charged in March with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing — through which he allegedly victimized 10 or more persons over the age of 55 — one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of obstructing an official proceeding.
His boss, Shah, 48, was arrested and charged at the same time. The two pleaded not guilty during an arraignment in April, and Shah has continued to maintain her innocence.
Stein set Smith’s sentencing for March 3rd and released him on bail in the meantime. The judge also noted that the maximum combined sentence for the three charges is 70 years in prison.
According to a previous court document obtained by PEOPLE, others who were involved in the same telemarketing scheme and pleaded guilty to similar charges were given sentences ranging from about 5 to 7 years.
During his hearing, Smith read out a statement admitting to his crimes relating to various telemarketing companies he said he either helped create or worked for between 2008 and 2021.
“I knowingly and intentionally discussed and engaged with other individuals to develop a plan or operation to obtain money by false representation by offering and inducing individuals, many of whom were over 50 years of age or older, to provide money to entities that I and others were involved with,” he began.
Smith continued, sharing that he “became aware that these telemarketing companies were misleading customers of those entities by selling individuals, many of them who were older than 50 years of age, information that purported to be services to enhance their business opportunities.”
“The services sold were of no value and of no real benefit to the customer,” he said.
A lawyer for Smith did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
In a press release announcing Shah and Smith’s arrests earlier this year, prosecutors alleged they carried out a nationwide telemarketing scheme with the help of others between 2012 and March of this year. They were accused of having “defrauded hundreds of victims” with purported business services.
Prosecutors further claimed that Shah and Smith’s scheme was a “coordinated effort to traffic in lists of potential victims,” referred to as “leads.” From there, they allegedly sold those leads to telemarketing companies that would attempt to sell business services to the targeted individuals. Both “received as profit a share of the fraudulent revenue per the terms of their agreement with those participants,” according to the indictment.
According to a court document obtained by PEOPLE in July, Shah and Smith are both “Tier A” defendants in the ongoing fraud case. The document claims the duo were “responsible for orchestrating the broader scheme” and “supplying the leads that sustained” the telemarketing companies.
In September, Shah appeared alongside The Real Housewives of Potomac’s Gizelle Bryant on Bravo’s “Spilling Iced Tea” Instagram Live and addressed her ongoing legal woes.
“I think what people don’t understand is, here in America, you’re innocent until proven guilty. I’m innocent,” she said. “And I believe that this is not just my test, this is everybody’s test close to me and in my corner.”
If Jen’s as involved as prosecutors believe, this is NOT a good look for her.