Jen Shah, of ‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,’ Sentenced to Prison

Jen Shah, of ‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,’ Sentenced to Prison

Jen Shah — a star of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City — has been sentenced to six years and six months in prison for her role in a years-long telemarketing scam. NBC News first reported the sentencing.

On July 11, Shah pleaded guilty to fraud charges against her and agreed to repay more than $9 million to her victims. She also agreed to forfeit $6.5 million to the government. The federal court case against Shah has been unfolding in the Southern District of New York before Judge Sidney Stein since her arrest on March 30, 2021 — much of which was caught on camera while filming The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City .”

According to accounts from those in the courtroom — the Southern District does not broadcast its proceedings live — Shah’s own lawyers appeared to do her no favors. During her attorney’s remarks to Judge Stein, she referred to Shah’s Hawaiian heritage and said, according to tweets from Inner City Press: “She started in Hawaii, a land of elders. Now the elders, her victims, are teaching her.” Meanwhile, the judge asked about the merchandise on Shah’s website and whether her “hunger for trinkets predates the show?”

The proceedings continued in that direction as the US Attorney made devastating comments about Shah’s victims and how little he took their plights seriously during his company’s ongoing fraud. “She mocked the victims,” ​​said the US attorney. “She wrote: ‘You’re making her fall in love with you.’

When it was time for Shah to speak, she blamed Bravo for the way she has appeared on the show. According to Inner City Press, she said, “But reality TV has nothing to do with reality, and even my tagline, ‘Shah-mazing’ — they wrote it.”

She also apologized to the victims. “My actions have hurt innocent people,” she said. “I want to apologize by saying, I am doing everything I can to earn the funds to pay the compensation.”

Shah also said that she is still on “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” which will help her make the comeback.

Courtesy of Inner City Press/Twitter

Shah then apologized again. “This is a defining moment for me,” she said. “With the right medication I can now see what happened. I wish I had stayed out of it. I’m sorry. I have found solace in my volunteer work, with anti-racism organizations and the LGBT community.” With this, she addressed her family, apologizing to her son and her late father.

She then thanked the judge, who promptly sentenced her to 78 months in prison. “I remember some of the texts she sent disparaging the victims,” ​​he said. “She brazenly continued and concealed her activities including overseas moving operations.” He then added, “I’m going to keep you on supervised release for five years, Ms. Shah, to make sure you don’t end up committing another crime.”

Judge Stein then said she had the right to appeal and ordered her to report to jail “in the region of Texas” — as requested by her attorney — on February 17.

Jen Shah courtesy of Chris Haston/Bravo

In a December 16 court appearance by Shah’s lawyers on her behalf, she had asked for leniency. Her lawyers played down her role in the fraud and argued that because of Shah’s background – and because she is an “extraordinary mother and a good woman who has already been widely punished as a result of the sins of her past ” – she should receive a sentence of three years in prison.

And in a fascinating claim, Shah’s lawyers also characterize The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City as a “heavily edited facsimile of ‘reality’ deliberately manipulated to maximize ratings” and say of Shah’s on-screen self that “little the other is true about her personality and caricature as portrayed by the editors of RHOSLC.”

Fans of the show may especially take issue with this claim from Shah’s lawyers, given how fiercely she proclaimed her innocence on camera: “Worse, because of the editing, scripting and complete control of the network over the ‘line of RHOSLC history, as her sentencing date approaches, Ms. Shah has come across as inconsistent, defiant, and often unrepentant about her actions here.”

At Shah’s sentencing in New York City on Jan. 6, arguments from her attorneys had no effect.

The government laid out its case to the United States against Jennifer Shah in a Dec. 23 sentencing memo, opening with this assertion: “For nearly a decade, the defendant was an integral leader of a vast, nationwide telemarketing scam. scheme that victimized thousands of innocent people. Many of those people were elderly or vulnerable.”

Since Shah pleaded guilty a week before her criminal trial began in July, in the memo, U.S. attorneys built their case for why — in the government’s view — she should serve 10 years in prison.

In the memo, federal prosecutors repeatedly state that Shah was a “ringleader” in the telemarketing scam, which was under investigation for years (well before Shah made her Bravo debut in November 2020). According to U.S. Attorneys, “She and her accomplices continued their conduct until the victims’ bank accounts were empty, their credit cards were at their limits, and there was nothing left to take,” with most of the victims being elderly the objectives. According to prosecutors, Shah also took “extravagant steps to conceal her criminal behavior from authorities” and instructed her associates to lie and destroy evidence.

As for Shah’s specific crimes, for years, according to government testimony, she preyed on her victims by selling them worthless “coaching sessions” along with other products, such as tax preparation services. And she seemed to know it was illegal: In 2015, Shah gave sworn testimony about one of her companies in which she admitted to giving others contact information about vulnerable potential victims of marketing scams telecommunications.

Federal prosecutors also cite texts from Shah that — to the ears of any “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” fan — sound a lot like her. “HOLY MASTER !!!!!!!!” was her apparent reaction to the arrest of two of her colleagues in 2017. Later that year, as she addressed an employee who told Shah that a defrauded victim wanted a refund, she wrote: “Should we refund this ? [victim name] madam? Or is he done crying and ready to move on?” And in 2018, she launched an angry prank on her former friend and co-star Stuart Smith — who also appeared on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City (before pleading guilty) — with “Look whore… I’m doing you a favor.” Then she shared why she was angry with another co-worker.

Jen Shah, looking into the camera on the day of her arrest. Courtesy of Bravo

Without mentioning that Shah is on “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” the prosecutor’s memo says she “attempted to profit from the allegations by selling ‘Justice for Jen’ merchandise.” It also makes scathing reference to her “public offensive” after the arrest to protest her innocence, citing, among other statements, her Season 2 title, without saying what it was: “The defendant, appearing to scoff at the charges in this case, also claimed that ‘e the only thing I’m guilty of is being chess-mazing.’

The memo also includes a number of victim statements from those defrauded by Shah, most of whom are in their 60s and 70s. All write how Shah’s desperation destroyed them, both financially and emotionally. One victim was left homeless; another describes being unable to care for her “severely ill” husband and father, and writes to Shah directly: “The burden you have caused me is overwhelming, I cannot even put into words the amount of anguish you have caused me.”

As to why she committed these crimes, American lawyers point out that Shah’s lack of financial motivation makes her an anomaly among her associates. “Unlike the others,” the memorandum states, “the defendant had a wife who lived a very good life: she did not need to commit the crime to support herself or her family, she did it out of pure greed. ”

In the third season of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” which is currently airing on Bravo, Shah’s impending court case has been a major plot point. As is her wont, viewers have seen Shah swing from the highs (throwing a birthday party for her husband Sharrieff Shah, a special teams coordinator for the University of Utah football team) and the lows. (confessing that she attempted suicide during her legal troubles). For the first half of the season, she appeared to be the most carefree and high-spirited member of the series, even as she faces prison and separation from Coach Shah and her two sons.

But as the season drew closer to her real-life test, Shah’s forced cheerfulness crumbled and she repeatedly lashed out at other cast members. In an unfortunate, irritating storyline that played out over several episodes, Shah even emerged as a suspect in giving Heather Gay a black eye off-camera during a drunken night out in San Diego. Gay has so far refused to say how it happened, and Shah seemed taken aback by her friend’s brilliance – but fellow actor Whitney Rose (and many viewers) have pointed the finger at Shah for Gay’s injury.

Jen Shah, Sharrieff Shah Courtesy of Fred Hayes/Bravo

The Real Housewives franchise has plumbed these true-crime depths before, with fascinating results. In October 2014, Teresa and Joe Giudice, stars of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, were both sentenced to prison for bank fraud. (After her release from prison, Teresa picked up where she left off and remains at the center of the show.) Also in 2014, Apollo Nida, the then-husband of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s” Phaedra Parks, went to prison. for identity theft and bank fraud. And most recently, for the last two seasons of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” Erika Girardi’s downfall — due to her estranged husband’s alleged numerous financial crimes — finally made it a compelling TV show.

In the first two minutes of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” this season, in a preview of an upcoming episode, Shah yelled at her castmates, “I’ve had everything taken away! Everything!” That phrase is revealing, of course, given the nature of Shah’s crimes — and who took what from whom, as the government proved.

But with the season finale on January 11 next week, and since Shah’s lawyers, as she wrote on Instagram last month, barred her from participating in the show’s upcoming reunion, it’s unclear if Bravo viewers will hear sometimes him taking responsibility for anything. It looks like Shah will go to jail without ever confessing her guilt to the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City audience — which might be her most amazing stunt of all.

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