Reality TV Stars Who Are Currently In Jail

This article features descriptions of sexual assault, child abuse, rape, drug misuse, child exploitation, grooming, addiction, and domestic violence. 

Landing a role on a reality show is like winning a small lottery jackpot. Obviously, there are financial benefits, but there's also the intangible satisfaction of feeling like you found a backdoor into the entertainment business. While most reality TV stints are short-lived anyway, the stars on this list ended whatever chance they had at fame in a different way: by going to prison. 

The reasons for the respective incarceration of these reality stars are as varied as the reality TV genre itself. Who can forget when "Jersey Shore" goombah Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino served time for tax fraud, or when "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Teresa Giudice and her then-husband were sent down the river for bankruptcy fraud? Okay, so maybe not that varied. But regardless, not all the crimes of imprisoned reality stars involve fraud and not all feature people who reside in New Jersey. 

In fact, these crimes have ranged from financial fraud to physical assault to heinous allegations involving abuses committed against minors. But in life as in television, there can also be the opportunity for redemption — both Giudice and Sorrentino did their time and then returned to their respective reality shows. However, not every jailed reality star has been that lucky. Here are some reality stars who are still stuck in the slammer, as of this writing.

Jen Shah

In March 2021, NBC New York reported "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" star Jen Shah was arrested on federal charges including fraud and money laundering. The charges were related to a purported telemarketing scam in which hundreds of vulnerable victims — many of which were elderly — were allegedly duped out of significant amounts of cash. 

After initially professing her innocence and pleading not guilty, she subsequently entered a guilty plea to a count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, with the money laundering charge dropped, per Page Six. When asked by the judge to describe her crimes, she was quoted by Inner City Press as saying, "Wire fraud, offering services with little to no value. We used interstate telephones and emails. I knew many of the purchasers were over the age of 55. I am so sorry."

In January 2023, Shah was sentenced to six and a half years in prison and vowed to pay back the $6.5 million that she'd scammed from her victims. "I struggled to accept responsibility for the longest time because I deluded myself into believing ... that I did nothing wrong," Shah said, per The Associated Press. "I alone am responsible for my terrible decisions. It was all my fault and all my wrongdoing," Shah confessed. "... I wish I could have stood outside myself and seen the harm I was causing and changed course." She began her sentence in March 2023 and is due for release in 2028, after her time was reduced by one year, per E! News.

Toby Willis

The Willis Family shot to fame in 2014 when they appeared on "America's Got Talent," performing as a 10-piece family band, who played Christian country songs which won the hearts of the panel and indeed, the nation. The Willis' parlayed their "AGT" fame into their own eponymous TLC reality show, which ran for two seasons until it was canceled in May 2016. 

On top of running the soundboard for his family concerts, Toby Willis was also a strict patriarch who laid out some firm rules for his large brood of children. "I expect my kids to be the best, but the best involves a lifetime commitment," he once said on the show. 

Unfortunately, Willis didn't live up to the expectations he set for his own children when, five months after their TLC show ended, he was arrested and charged with one count of rape of a child, according to TBI Newsroom. Three additional counts were later added, and in July 2017, Willis pleaded guilty to four counts of child rape relating to an incident that had taken place 12 years earlier. Willis was sentenced to a total of 40 years in prison: two 25-year sentences for two of the counts and two 40-year sentences for the other two counts, which he now serves concurrently, per The Tennessean

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Julie and Todd Chrisley

Reality TV fans met Julie and Todd Chrisley when "Chrisley Knows Best" debuted in 2014 on USA Network, with the series following the lives of the flamboyant Southerners as they ran their real-estate empire and raised their kids. The series was renewed, running for 10 seasons and spawning a whack of spinoffs, including "Growing Up Chrisley" (which focused on Chrisley siblings Chase and Savannah), and the short-lived talk show, "According to Chrisley."

The Chrisleys' world came crashing down in 2019 when Todd revealed on Instagram that he and Julie were under investigation for fraud. He proclaimed their innocence, blaming a disgruntled former employee whom they'd fired for allegedly forging their signatures on documents, among other misdeeds. "To get revenge, he took a bunch of his phony documents to the U.S. Attorney's office and told them we had committed all kinds of financial crimes, like tax evasion and bank fraud," he wrote. 

Regardless, they were subsequently indicted on those and other charges. At their trial, the couple plead not guilty but were ultimately found guilty, per E! News. As reported by the United States Attorney's Office, Todd was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, with Julie sentenced to seven. In January 2023, the Chrisleys surrendered to authorities to begin serving their sentences. 

Per CBS News, after the verdict, prosecutors were harsh in their assessment, stating, "Todd and Julie Chrisley are career swindlers who have made a living by jumping from one fraud scheme to another, lying to banks, stiffing vendors, and evading taxes at every corner."

Will Hayden

It only took one hour of deliberation for a jury to convict "Sons of Guns" star, Will Hayden, on two counts of aggravated rape and one count of forcible rape, according to The Advocate. Hayden's crimes spanned several decades, with one woman accusing him of having raped her twice in the early '90s when she was 12 and 13. Another woman similarly accused him of having committed the same crime against her in 2013 and 2014, when she was just 11 and 12. 

He was sentenced to concurrent life terms on the aggravated rape convictions and a consecutive 40-year prison term for the forcible rape conviction, which the judge ordered to be served without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. In other words: Hayden, 57, will die in prison. But not before he faces possible additional charges stemming from accusations from his oldest daughter, Stephanie, who told Dr. Phil (Via Fox 411) that Hayden also abused her, another family member, and a friend. 

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Timothy R. Zickuhr

In a crime that sounds like it's straight out of a Coen brothers movie, "Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads" star Timothy R. Zickuhr, assaulted and kidnapped a sex worker named Snow White, then moronically walked right into an ad hoc sting operation she set up on the fly.

According to TMZ, it all started when Zickuhr gave Snow White his ATM card in order to pay for services rendered. He then accused her of taking too much money and arranged for a meeting the next day so she could pay him back. At this point, Zickuhr allegedly doused her with water, physically attacked her, and restrained her, before allegedly locking her in a closet, and demanding a phone number for someone who could get the cash for him.

Ingeniously, Snow White then gave him the number of a Vegas cop, who Zickuhr called, demanding $1,000 or else he'd kill her. The cop arranged a meeting and arrested Zickuhr, who promptly admitted to being the world's dumbest criminal. He was eventually sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison, after he plead guilty to two felony charges of first-degree kidnapping and extortionate collection of debt, according to Page Six

Josh Duggar

Josh Duggar, the eldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of "19 Kids and Counting" fame, has seemingly made it his life's work to tarnish the squeaky-clean, ultra-religious image presented on the TLC series. In 2015, InTouch discovered a 2006 police report containing allegations that Josh sexually molested several of his sisters when he was a teenager. Per The Washington Post, the fallout led Josh to issue a statement of apology and resign from his job as a lobbyist at the conservative Family Research Council, while TLC ultimately yanked "19 Kids and Counting" after advertisers fled. 

Later that year, his name appeared in a data hack, revealing he'd signed up for the Ashley Madison dating website, which assists married people looking for secret affairs. Per CNN, he issued another apology, this time admitting he was also experiencing an addiction to porn. That alleged addiction took a dark turn when, in 2021, Duggar was arrested by U.S. Marshals, and subsequently charged with possession of child pornography. During his trial, a federal agent testified one of the videos downloaded by Duggar contained some of the worst footage of its kind that he'd seen in over 1,000 comparable cases, per Insider. The jury returned a guilty verdict, and Duggar was sentenced to 12 years behind bars, per The New York Times.

The former TLC star is scheduled to be released in 2032. As the New York Post reported, he had two additional months tacked onto his sentence when he was discovered in possession of a contraband cell phone while in solitary confinement. 

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Geoffrey Paschel

Geoffrey Paschel made his television debut on TLC's "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days," when he was involved with a Russian woman he met on a dating site. However, his TV fame was eclipsed by his allegedly abusive relationship with an ex-fiancée. As the Knoxville News Sentinel reported, he was arrested for a purported 2018 incident with his ex, who received an order of protection after accusing him of carrying out various acts of violence against her. He maintained his innocence and claimed the allegations were fabricated to ruin his child custody case with another ex-girlfriend. 

When his case finally went to trial, Paschel contended that his ex's injuries were self-inflicted, caused by bumping into a door while she was heavily intoxicated. The jury didn't buy it, and he was convicted of kidnapping and assault, stemming from his ex's allegations. In 2022, Paschel received a grim sentence — 18 years in federal prison, with no possibility of parole, per People. If he serves his full sentence, he should be a free man in 2040. As Court TV reported, during sentencing, Paschel's lawyer complained that the sentence was "excessive," and sought a new trial. However, the judge refused, standing by his sentence while citing Paschel's "sick" and "sadistic" behavior.

According to InTouch, this wasn't Paschel's first brush with the law. In fact, he'd been arrested a few times before that, including for charges related to drug possession with an intent to sell.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Maurice Fayne

Maurice "Arkansas Mo" Fayne appeared on a few episodes of "Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta," one of the many love interests of fan-favorite cast member Kyrie Redd. In 2020, CNN reported that Fayne — who owns an Altanta-area trucking company — was arrested on fraud charges. According to authorities, Fayne fraudulently obtained a $2 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan during the pandemic, falsely claiming his company had 107 employees and a monthly payroll of nearly $1.5 million. However, Payne allegedly used the cash he received to buy $85,000 in jewelry, lease a Rolls Royce, and make $40,000 in child support payments, among other purchases.

The following year, the United States Attorney's Office in Georgia issued a statement revealing that Payne had been convicted on an array of federal charges, including bank fraud, wire fraud, and more. "Fayne planned to use the PPP program as a cover for his long-running Ponzi scheme," said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. As Erskine explained, Fayne was accused of having run a Ponzi scheme since 2013, luring investors to sink money into his trucking business but instead using the cash to finance his opulent lifestyle, which apparently included burning through more than $5 million at a casino. 

Fayne was sentenced to 17 years behind bars. "This sentence should serve notice that the FBI and our federal partners will investigate anyone who misdirects federal emergency assistance earmarked for businesses who need it to stay afloat," said Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta.

Jerry Harris

Jerry Harris was a breakout star on "Cheer," a hit Netflix docuseries that debuted in January 2020, following the exploits of the cheer squad of Navarro College. In September of that year, while he and his co-stars were basking in their newfound celebrity, USA Today reported that Harris was being investigated for allegedly soliciting sex from two underage boys. The allegations cost Harris his spot on the team and his role in the show, but the situation quickly became far worse. 

According to The New York Times, he pled guilty to two of the seven charges he'd been hit with — receiving child porn using interstate commerce and traveling over state lines with intent to illicit sexual conduct with a minor. At the time, his attorney alleged Harris himself had been a victim of sexual abuse as a minor. "There being no safe harbor to discuss his exploitation, Jerry instead masked his trauma and put on the bright face and infectious smile that the world came to know," his lawyer said. "As we now know, Jerry became an offender himself as an older teenager."

Harris was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, followed by eight years of supervised release. "I regret my decisions and I am deeply sorry," Harris said in a statement published by USA Today. "All I can do going forward is to try to do better and be a better person. I do not deserve forgiveness, but I do pray that one day you might find it in your hearts."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Scott Menaged

Scott Menaged was one of the dueling house-flippers on Discovery's "Property Wars," but it eventually turned out that buying foreclosed homes, sight unseen, and then renovating and flipping them on television wasn't the only thing that he was up to. In 2017, E! News reported that Menaged was arrested after an investigation by Homeland Security. The charges ran the gamut, from wire fraud to conspiracy to defraud, to aggravated identity theft, all surrounding accusations that he and some co-conspirators filed bogus credit applications using stolen identities, using his furniture stores as a front. 

He pleaded guilty to those charges, in addition to charges of money laundering. When Menaged was sentenced, the judge threw the book at him by sentencing him to 17 years in federal prison, per azcentral. According to the Arizona United States Attorney's Office, Menaged's elaborate scheme involved obtaining the names and ID info of people who had recently died, and using that information to pretend they were customers applying for credit to buy furniture. However, no furniture was actually sold, with Menaged instead embezzling the money to fund his extravagant lifestyle, causing a $2 million loss to the banks who gave credit to his deceased "customers." 

"Menaged engaged in a multi-year fraud scheme and brazenly stole from his victims — their money, their identities, and ultimately their trust," First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange said in a statement. "Today's lengthy sentence is a fitting punishment for his egregious crimes."