This week, the The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City world was in for a shock.
After ages of very public denials (and yelling, lots of yelling), Jen Shah pleaded guilty at the last minute.
This was a massive reversal, and fans aren’t the only ones reeling in surprise.
Heather Gay and Meredith Marks were totally blindsided by Jen’s new plea.
An inside source spoke to Page Six about how Jen Shah’s castmates — these two in particular — responded.
Apparently, both Heather and Meredith found out about Jen’s new plea just heartbeats before it went public.
According to the insider, Jen called Heather just before she headed into the courtroom on Monday.
Jen told Heather that she would be entering a guilty plea.
She also asked Heather to call Meredith and bring her into the loop.
An additional source confirmed that both women received a heads up.
What’s more is that both Heather and Meredith had already been in New York.
Their reason was simple: to be there for Jen.
Jen “wanted people around her” for emotional support, the insider explained.
Meredith did not mince words when she poke in Jen’s defense … the night before the change in plea.
“In the US, one has a right to a trial and is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” she wrote.
That is certainly true … legally speaking. It does not mean that people cannot draw their own conclusions.
Obviously, Jen’s change in plea left Meredith with egg on her face.
She went to bat for Jen — after everything — and then Jen made her look foolish.
But you know what? Better to look too foolishly compassionate than too heartless, you know?
Reports say that both Whitney Rose and Lisa Barlow were “shocked” by Jen’s plea.
“Everyone was surprised,” the source noted.
The insider cited that Jen had “continually” told her castmates that she was “innocent and that she was going to fight.”
According to the insider, Jen claimed to friends that the “reason people plead [guilty] is because they’re afraid.”
“And they can’t afford it,” she apparently told them, “but that she can afford it.”
The source continued: “And she was was going to fight for her innocence.”
Jen has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing.
The US attorney agreed to drop the other count against her, which is conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Allegedly, Jen’s change in plea is out of a desire to “pay her debt to society and put this ordeal behind her and her family.”
Jen was so adamant of her innocence. What changed her tune?
Apparently, seeing the mountain of evidence and the prosecution’s witness list sent her into a panic.
“She knew she had to plead guilty,” the insider explained.
The source reasoned that Jen knew this “because she was going to be guilty anyway.”
“And,” the insider continued, Jen “didn’t want to drag her mom, her husband, her kids, and everybody into it,”
That sounds almost uncharacteristically nice of her.
Jen could face a maximum of 30 years in prison, with five years of supervised release to follow.
The plea agreement, however, calls for a sentence of only 11 to 14 years behind bars, with up to $9.5 million in restitution.
That is still a very long time. It is also a lot of money. Jen’s sentencing hearing will take place in November.