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Utah reality star expected to plead not guilty to federal fraud charges

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This image released by Bravo shows Jen Shah, a cast member from the reality series “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.” Authorities announced that Shah and Stuart Smith were arrested Tuesday in Utah on federal fraud charges. (Chad Kirkland/Bravo via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – One of the ‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ stars is in real trouble – Jen Shah is expected to plead not guilty on two federal counts of fraud.

Shah and her assistant, Stuart Smith, face one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

“These are vary serious federal charges,” criminal defense attorney Greg Skordas tells ABC4. “They were selling these leads generating money from them and then, according to the government, not producing anything at all. Nobody got anything for their money, people spent probably millions of dollars.”

According to federal documents, which you can view here, there were hundreds of victims over the age of 55 who claim they fell victim to the scheme.

“It makes her punishment greater,” Skordas explains. “That they are saying she stole from a lot of people, and a lot of them happened to be seniors, so that makes them a protected class.”

SLIDESHOW: Jen Shah leaving Salt Lake City federal courthouse

Skordas said each charge carries a maximum of 30 and 20-year sentences, respectively, but says Shah will likely serve less time.  

“She is not going to do that, although there is a prison commitment that follows. This is could be many years and many months,” Skordas says.  

Shah and Smith were released on certain conditions like not contacting each other, surrendering passports, and agreeing to make all court appearances.

Skordas says the case could depend on Shahs’ ability to pay restitution to the victims.

Shah and Smith were scheduled to appear in federal court virtually Wednesday afternoon, but the appearance was adjourned until Friday due to technical difficulties.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with information regarding court appearances.

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