DOWNTOWN L.A. — A former Food Network chef pleaded no contest Tuesday to soliciting two Santa Monica homeless men to kill his wife, authorities said.

Juan-Carlos Cruz, who hosted “Calorie Commando” and “Weighing In,” entered his plea on the day a hearing was set to begin to determine if there was enough evidence to require him to stand trial, said Jane Robison, press secretary for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Cruz, 48, is facing up to nine years in state prison, with sentencing set for Dec. 13 before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge H. Chester Horn.

As part of a settlement, an attempted murder charge is expected to be dismissed when Cruz is sentenced, Robison said.

Cruz has been jailed on $2 million bail since his arrest May 13 by Santa Monica police, who were contacted by two men who said Cruz had hired them for $500 to kill someone.

The pair agreed to assist the Santa Monica Police Department, whose detectives learned the murder-for-hire method, the time and place the intended victim was to be killed and the terms of payment, Santa Monica police Sgt. Jay Trisler said earlier. reported that Cruz’s wife was suicidal because she could not have children but could not kill herself because of her religious beliefs. Authorities believe Cruz was going to have his wife killed as an act of mercy and then take his own life.

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