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All you need to know about Jen Shah's sentencing

The "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" star pled guilty to participating in a telemarketing scheme.

Jen Shah, star of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” was sentenced to 78 months in prison in Jan. 2023.

Shah was initially arrested in March 2021 in connection to a telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of people out of money starting in 2012, per a U.S. Attorney’s Office press release from the time of her arrest. 

Shah and her assistant, Stuart Smith, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, per a press release.

Shah’s arrest happened while she was filming “RHOSLC.” Until she changed her plea to guilty for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in July 2022, per court documents, Shah proclaimed her innocence while filming the show, including at the “RHOSLC” reunion this past February.

Shah stars alongside Lisa Barlow, Meredith Marks, Heather Gay, and Whitney Rose on “RHOSLC,” a newer iteration of Bravo’s hallmark franchise that premiered in 2022. Bravo is part of NBC Universal, TODAY’s parent company.

In a statement to NBC News on July 11, Shah’s lawyers said of her decision to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, “Ms. Shah is a good woman who crossed a line. She accepts full responsibility for her actions and deeply apologizes to all who have been harmed. Ms. Shah is also sorry for disappointing her husband, children, family, friends, and supporters. Jen pled guilty because she wants to pay her debt to society and put this ordeal behind her and her family.”   

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City - Season 1
Jen Shah in "RHOSLC."Chad Kirkland / Bravo

Shah was arrested while filming ‘RHOSLC’ season two

Shah was arrested in March 2021 and was charged alongside her longtime assistant, Stuart Smith, per NBC News, who also frequently appeared on the show as her right-hand man.   

After initially pleading not guilty to charges of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of obstructing an official proceeding, Shah’s once assistant, Smith, changed his plea to guilty on all counts in November 2021, per court documents.

An episode of “RHOSLC” which aired on Nov. 14, 2021 and was recapped by E! News, depicted the aftermath of Shah’s arrest (but didn’t show her being handcuffed on camera). Prior to her arrest, as depicted on the Bravo show, Shah was in a van to go on a trip to Vail, Colorado with her cast mates, before she abruptly left the scene.

Jen Shah
Jen Shah leaving the federal courthouse Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in Salt Lake City. Rick Bowmer / AP

Details of Shah’s telemarketing scheme emerged after her arrest

Shah and Smith “engaged in a widespread, coordinated effort to traffic in lists of potential victims, or ‘leads," the charges from the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York said

As part of the scheme, victims were sold “business services,” per the indictment that, as Shah later said while pleading guilty to one count of fraud in 2022, “had little to no value.” 

As HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said in the press release at the time of their arrest, “As alleged, disturbingly, Shah and Smith objectified their very real human victims as ‘leads’ to be bought and sold, offering their personal information for sale to other members of their fraud ring.”  

During his hearing, per court documents, Smith read a statement admitting to the crimes he perpetrated while creating telemarketing companies between 2008 and 2021.

“I knowingly and intentionally discussed and engaged with other individuals to develop a plan or operation to obtain money by false representation by offering and inducing individuals, many of whom were over 50 years of age or older, to provide money to entities that I and others were involved with,” and added, “(I) became aware that these telemarketing companies were misleading customers of those entities by selling individuals, many of them who were older than 50 years of age, information that purported to be services to enhance their business opportunities.” 

Ultimately, Smith explained, “The services sold were of no value and of no real benefit to the customer.”

TODAY reached out to Smith; we have not received comment. 

Shah initially pled not guilty 

During a virtual arraignment on April 2, 2021, Shah pled not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, per NBC

Judge Sidney Stein set Shah’s bail at $1 million, and gave her one week to pay the $250,000 bond “in cash or property,” per NBC

Shah’s trial was initially set for October 18, 2021 at the April arraignment, then delayed multiple times until July 2022 due to COVID protocols, per Law360’s coverage of an August 2021 pretrial conference held by U.S. district judge Sidney H. Stein.  

In the summer of 2021, Shah requested to dismiss her case for the first time, citing reasons like ‘blurry vision’

In the summer of 2021, Shah made her first request to dismiss her charges. Per a legal filing from the New York Southern District, Shah’s team said the indictment fails to provide sufficient evidence to prove that she joined the conspiracy “willfully and with the specific intent to defraud” and to prove that “fraudulent, material promises were made to victims. 

Shah’s legal team argued, per the legal filing, that the signing of her Miranda waiver was “involuntary,” claiming that she was “unable to read” the Miranda waiver due to having “blurry vision” because of “dry” contact lenses.

In August 2021, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein denied Shah’s motion to dismiss, stating that Shah’s claims wouldn’t survive “even cursory scrutiny.” 

Shah again requested the courts dismiss her case in late 2021, which was denied

In December 2021, Shah made a request to dismiss her case, per legal filings, after an ABC news documentary dropped on Hulu, “The Housewife & the Shah Shocker,” was released that covered Shah’s telemarketing scam and featured victims, legal experts, family and friends. 

On December 10, per legal filings, Judge Sidney H. Stein denied Shah’s request, and in an order filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, wrote, “Dismissal of an indictment is an extreme sanction that is to be utilized only in the rare case.” 

Stein said, “There has been no evidence whatsoever proffered to suggest that Shah‘s right to a fair trial has been compromised or prejudiced in any respect.” 

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City - Season 1
Jen Shah in "RHOSLC."Bravo / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Shah pled guilty on July 11

On Monday, July 11, Shah pled guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, just a few days ahead of her proposed trial date. 

As part of the plea deal, charges of money laundering were dropped, and Shah agreed to forfeit $6.5 million and to pay restitution up to $9.5 million, per a press release from the Department of Justice.

Speaking before Judge Sidney Stein in a Manhattan court on July 11, Shah admitted that she “agreed with others to commit wire fraud” and “knew it misled” victims, per NBC’s reporting. Shah said that there was a “misrepresentation of the product…regarding value of the service,” and that it “had little to no value.”

When Judge Stein asked if she knew what she was doing was wrong and illegal, Shah replied, “Yes, your honor.” She said she “knew it was wrong, many people were harmed and I’m so sorry.”

Shah‘s attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said in a statement to TODAY that Shah changed her plea to guilty “because she wants to pay her debt to society and put this ordeal behind her and her family.” 

“Ms. Shah is a good woman who crossed a line. She accepts full responsibility for her actions and deeply apologizes to all who have been harmed,” she said in a statement. “Ms. Shah is also sorry for disappointing her husband, children, family, friends, and supporters.” 

Bravo, owned by NBCUniversal, TODAY’s parent company, declined to comment.

Shah's sentencing has been pushed a number of times, from November 18 to December 15 to January 6, 2023.

She was sentenced to 78 months in prison

On Jan. 6, 2023, Shah was sentenced to 78 months, or over six years, in prison as part of her plea deal. Upon her release she will have five years of supervision.

“With today’s sentence, Jennifer Shah finally faces the consequences of the many years she spent targeting vulnerable, elderly victims. These individuals were lured in by false promises of financial security, but in reality, Shah and her co-conspirators defrauded them out of their savings and left them with nothing to show for it. This conviction and sentence demonstrate once again that we will continue to vigorously protect victims of financial fraud and hold accountable those who engage in fraudulent schemes,” a statement from Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement released Jan. 6.

And will report to prison in February 2022

During her sentencing, Shah was ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on Feb. 17.

Andy Cohen's added his take on Shah's legal proceedings

When Shah's guilty plea broke on Monday, July 11, "Housewives" executive producer Andy Cohen was hosting his Sirius XM Radio show, "Radio Andy," and Cohen told actor Jonah Hill, “I don’t know how to feel about this, Jen Shah pleading guilty."

Two days later, on Wednesday, July 13, Cohen revisited Shah‘s case on his radio show, providing a more thorough response. 

Cohen said, “Having sat with this, how do I feel? I’m upset and I’m upset, especially upset for her victims. I’m upset that she lied for so long and claimed to me that she was an example of someone being wrongly accused. If you remember sitting there at that reunion, she was so dogmatic about it, that I felt OK, you know, let this woman have her day in court.’” 

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City - Season 1
Jen Shah during the "RHOSLC" Season Two reunion.Heidi Gutman / Bravo

“I’m extremely upset about what she did. I’m also upset because, frankly, you get to know someone and you get to like them … you want to cheer them on, and you hate to think that they’re capable of this behavior,” Cohen said.

In October 2022, Cohen commented further about Shah's relationship with Bravo, as he stated, "once we wrapped [filming Season 3] she pled guilty, I think that was kind of, unfortunately, the end of the engagement there,” and added that he hoped to sit down and talk to her on camera at one point as he had "many questions" for Shah.

Shah did not appear at BravoCon 2022 or the 'RHOSLC' Season Three reunion taping

In October 2022, hundreds of Bravo stars and fans descended upon the Javits Center in New York City for BravoCon 2022, and Shah was notably absent.

Shah was in New York City for the weekend, and tweeted her response to rumors that she crashed events during the weekend, including "RHOC" wife Tamra Judge's remarks that Shah came to her hotel room and told her she would be crashing a "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" taping during the weekend. While in Judge's room, Shah appeared on an Instagram Live with Judge and Teddi Mellencamp, whom Judge hosts a housewives-focused podcast with.

Shah also did not attend the "RHOSLC" Season Three reunion taping in December 2022, but addressed her absence via a statement on her Instagram.

Shah said, “On September 14, 2022, I was informed by Bravo executives that I was not invited to attend the Season 3 Reunion. I was disappointed because I would have no venue to confront inaccuracies and address my storyline with cast members. Out of nowhere, on November 29, two and a half weeks ago, I was invited to attend. I was elated to learn I would have a voice at (the) reunion.”

“I was clear with Bravo that out of respect for the courts and a standing judicial order, I would not be in a position to discuss anything related to my legal case or sentencing,” Shah continued.

“Bravo found this unsatisfactory and said they expected to discuss this ‘storyline.’ That expectation has no regard for me or my family’s well-being; so under legal advice, I will not be attending reunion. I need to focus on the most important thing in my life — my family.”

The "RHOSLC" Season Three reunion will air in early 2023 on Bravo.

(Jan. 17 at 10:00 a.m.: The first sentence of this story was corrected to reflect the correct year. It originally listed the year as 2022.)