Just one week before Jen Shah, a breakout star in The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, was set to go to trial for her role in a telemarketing fraud scheme, the Bravolebrity has pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court.
According to court documents obtained by Page Six, Shah, who previously plead not guilty, met with US District Judge Sidney Stein before a shocking hearing, and resubmitted her plea early Monday morning.
“Jen Shah sworn in to plead guilty on the first count of her criminal indictment in connection with telemarketing fraud scheme that prosecutors said preyed on the elderly,” tweeted Courthouse News reporter Josh Russell.
In court transcripts shared by Inner City Press, Shah, 48, waived her right to a trial and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing, for which the maximum penalty is 30 years in prison. Since pleading guilty to the first count, the U.S. attorney dropped the second: conspiracy to commit money laundering. However, Shah will still owe up to $9.5 million in restitution.
When asked by Judge Stein to explain what she’s guilty of, Shah answered: “Wire fraud, offering services with little to no value. We used interstate telephones and emails. I knew many of the purchasers were over the age of 55. I am so sorry.” Shah was then prompted by Stein as to why the scheme was successful, to which she replied, “Misrepresentations, regarding the value of the product or service, of which it had little to none.” She’s set to be sentenced on November 28.
For those unfamiliar with the case, Shah, along with her “first assistant” Stuart Smith, was allegedly one “mastermind” in a national telemarketing scam that involved generating and selling “lead lists” of hundreds of elderly working-class people for other members of the operation to repeatedly scam.
“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,” said HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh.
The pair were arrested in March of 2021 and maintained their innocence when they were arraigned a month later. However, by November, Smith, along with all others named in the suit, changed his plea to guilty.
Meanwhile, throughout the most recent season of the Housewives franchise, as cameras followed the arrest and featured the charges as a central plot line, Shah emphatically claimed her innocence, wept over having to “downsize” her assets, and somehow bedecked herself in the same designer duds she’s worn since Episode 1—even as her own mother liquidated her retirement fund to aid in her daughter’s legal fees. It’s worth remembering that Shah even went so far as to shame any cast members who so much as questioned her role in the scheme.
“Y’all see who these ladies really are,” she wrote on Instagram as the season aired. “They have zero compassion for me and my family. It takes an evil person to take delight in what we’re going through. I’m 💯 innocent and I hope the ladies each learn a valuable lesson from this & stop judging others.”
Welp, it appears as though Shah is the one learning the most costly lesson. Will I delight when these episodes air? Sure, but likely not half as much as Shah’s victims who were forced to spend a year watching her maintain a lifestyle they unknowingly bankrolled.