SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The star of the hit reality television show “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” pled guilty to fraud in a criminal case relating to telemarketing on Monday, according to ABC News.
Court documents show that 48-year-old Jen Shah was charged in a two-count indictment, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Shah, among others, was accused of a sprawling telemarketing scheme that reportedly defrauded hundreds of people throughout the country. Many of those victims were over 55 years old.
Upon entering a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, who were calling for a sentence of up to 14 years in prison, Shah agreed to forfeit a whopping $6.5 million, as well as pay back victims of the scheme in an amount of up to $9.5 million.
Shah initially pled not guilty and was scheduled to begin trial in mid-July, however, Shah pled guilty on Monday to the first charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering, telling the judge she would not appeal if she was sentenced to 168 months or fewer.
She is now scheduled to be sentenced on November 28.
Shah stated in court, “In 2012 to March 2021 in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere I agreed with others to commit wire fraud. I knew this was wrong. I knew many people were harmed and I’m so sorry.”
Shah answered questions from the judge, saying that her scheme made misrepresentations of the value of the services being sold, and in fact, had no value at all.
When asked if she knew that what she was doing was illegal, she replied that she did know.
Federal prosecutors claim that Shah, along with her assistant Stuart Smith, were “responsible for orchestrating the broader scheme.” Smith also initially pled not guilty, but changed his plea in November of 2021.
Prosecutors state that Shah was deliberately elusive, keeping her name off of financial records, instead using relatives’ names, using encrypted apps to communicate with co-conspirators, and having a co-conspirator lie in a deposition taken by the Federal Trade Commission.
According to prosecutors, victims of the fraudulent scheme were ready to testify in court Monday about Shah’s misrepresentations.
Following Shah and Smith’s arrest, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Peter Fitzhugh stated, “Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their ‘success.’ In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people.”
Shah appeared on both seasons of ‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ fighting the charges of fraud during the second season of the popular Bravo TV show.