Jen Shah of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City was sentenced to six and a half years in prison on Friday for committing fraud in a telemarketing scheme that ripped off older adults.
Shah and Stuart Smith, her “first assistant,” were arrested in March 2021, and it was documented on an episode of RHOSLC. Prosecutors said that from 2012 to 2021, Shah and Smith carried out a telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of older adults by selling them “business services,” which according to prosecutors were just “fraudulent schemes” to steal the victims’ money.
Shah, Smith, and other participants in the scheme would convince the victims to invest in an alleged online business opportunity, prosecutors said. Then they would sell lists of the victims’ names to other participants in the scheme for “use by their telemarketing sales floors with the knowledge that the individuals they had identified as ‘leads’ would be defrauded by the other participants,” according to the indictment.
As part of the scheme, some participants would sell “services” for the victims’ “businesses,” like tax preparation or website design services, prosecutors said. But the businesses didn’t exist, and many of the older victims didn’t even own a computer.
Before Judge Sidney Stein handed down her sentence in Manhattan federal court on Friday, Shah addressed the courtroom, sobbing as she apologized to her victims. “I am sorry. My actions have hurt innocent people,” she said, according to Inner City Press.
Shah’s defense attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said her client “cannot forgive herself” for what she did.
“The [victims] worked hard and tried their best and their lives are forever mangled now,” Chaudhry said, according to NBC. “For the rest of Ms. Shah’s life, she will remember their names.”
But prosecutors hit back against the defense’s claim that Shah is remorseful, reportedly pointing to a text message presented as trial evidence, in which a “laughing” Shah asked an accomplice if they’d gotten an 80-year-old women to “stop crying” after she’d been defrauded.
In addition to prison time, Shah was also sentenced to five years supervised release, and was “also ordered to forfeit $6,500,000, 30 luxury items, and 78 counterfeit luxury items, and to pay $6,645,251 in restitution,” according to the Department of Justice.
In her statement before the court, Shah vowed to do all she could to pay the restitution, including putting the funds from the “Justice for Jen” merchandise she previously sold towards the victims.
She and her manager, who was in the courtroom during the sentencing, were also “working on things,” Shah said. Asked by the judge if she was “still in the cast” of the show “while in prison,” Shah said “yes.” Bravo, however, said no decisions have been made about Season 4.
The judge said the presence of Shah’s manager in court made her “concerned” that Shah might “intend to profit from this procedure,” but said she “assume[s] the government will take steps to effectuate this.”