2:15 PM AKDT, October 26, 2010
SANTA MONICA (KTLA) -- Celebrity chef Juan Carlos Cruz has pleaded no contest to charges he hired homeless men to kill his wife.
Los Angeles County prosecutors say Cruz entered the plea Tuesday to solicitation of murder.
The 48-year old, who hosted the Food Network show "Calorie Commando, faces up to nine years in state prison when he is sentenced in December.
Cruz was arrested in May by Santa Monica police after a homeless man reported being offered $500 to kill his wife Jennifer L. Campbell, a 47-year-old attorney.
Police say they set up a sting operation and videotaped Cruz arranging the killing with several homeless men.
Celebrity website TMZ.com says it obtained a series of text messages between Cruz and the homeless men he allegedly tried hiring to kill his wife.
TMZ also reports that Cruz allegedly wanted the men to cut his wife's throat.
The homeless men told TMZ that Cruz gave them $500, half of the $1,000 fee for the hit, box-cutters and cell phones.
Cruz came to the United States at age 3, the youngest of three sons of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, and grew up in Arcadia.
He created the TV show, "Crusing in the Kitchen," that aired on a local California public-access station.
That led to a featured appearance on the premiere season of Discovery Health Channel's "Body Challenge," on which he shed 43 pounds. He lost 15 more pounds after the show ended, according to his biography.
Cruz submitted a clip of the show to the Food Network. In 2004, the network signed him to produce the television show "Calorie Commando," in which guests challenged him to prepare their favorite meals with fewer calories while retaining the taste -- dishes included peanut butter cookies.
His motto became "Keep the taste while you trim your waist."
Cruz produced 39 episodes of "Calorie Commando" before it was canceled in 2006.