updated 10/26/2010 AT 3:40 PM ET
•originally published 10/26/2010 AT 3:45 PM ET
After his arrest in May, neighbors expressed shock and disbelief that Juan-Carlos Cruz, a churchgoing Catholic and well-known pastry chef who once had his own TV show, would want anyone dead, much less his wife.
But on Tuesday, the former Food Network star pleaded no contest in a Los Angeles court to soliciting two homeless men to kill his high school sweetheart, Jennifer Campbell, an attorney. The plot was thwarted by police, and Campbell wasn’t hurt.
Although Cruz didn’t admit wrongdoing, his plea has the same legal effect of a guilty plea. Cruz, 48, now faces nine years in state prison at his sentencing hearing set for Dec. 13.