“RHOSLC” Star Pleads Guilty

By Terrance Turner

July 11, 2022

“Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah pled guilty in court this morning to one of two charges in connection with a widespread telemarketing scheme. The plea comes just one week before her trial was supposed to start, per Forbes.

In March 2021, Shah and her assistant Stuart Smith were arrested and each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Initially, Shah pled not guilty to both charges. But today, she pled guilty to the charge of wire fraud (which carries a maximum of up to 30 years in prison). The change in plea comes as part of a plea deal.

“In front of Judge Sidney Stein shortly after 10:30 am, Shah entered into an agreement with federal prosecutors, changing her plea to guilty to a count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud,” according to NBC News. The agreement calls for a sentence of up to 14 years in prison, and it also calls for Shah to make restitution to victims in an amount of up to $9.5 million. She also agreed to a forfeiture of $6.5 million, per ABC News.

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“In 2012 to March 2021 in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, I agreed with others to commit wire fraud,” Shah told Judge Stein as she read from a prepared statement. “I knew this was wrong. I knew many people were harmed and I’m so sorry.”

Judge Stein then asked Shah some questions. Their exchange (courtesy of Inner City Press) is quoted, in part, below:

Judge Stein: If there were a trial, you could see and hear all the witnesses against you and your attorney could cross examine them. Do you understand those rights?

Shah: Yes, Your Honor.

Judge Stein: You will be giving up all of these rights and there will be no trial – do you understand?

Shah: Yes, Your Honor.

Judge Stein: Did you read the indictment?

Shah: Yes, I did.

Judge Stein: You are charged in Count 1 with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing, do you understand?

Shah: Yes, Your Honor.

Judge Stein: You understand that you will lose valuable civil rights, including the right to vote and bear arms?

Shah: I do.

Judge Stein: After I receive your pre-sentencing report I will determine guidelines, which in any event do not bind me. Do you understand that the system of parole has been abolished, except for “good time credit” at the facility where you are located?

Shah: Yes.

Judge Stein: In this agreement you’ve agreed not to appeal if I sentence you to 168 months in prison or fewer?

Shah: Yes, Your Honor.

Judge Stein: And you’ve agreed to forfeit $6 million, and restitution of $9 million?

Shah: Yes, Your Honor.

Judge Stein: Ms. Shah, what did you do?

Shah: 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.

Judge Stein: What is the reason they bought?

Shah: Misrepresentations, regarding the value of the product or service, of which it had little to none.

Judge Stein: Did you know it was wrong and illegal?

Shah: Yes, Your Honor.

From court proceedings via Inner City Press
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According to the indictment:

From 2012 until March 2021, JENNIFER SHAH and STUART SMITH, together with others (collectively, the “Participants”) carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims (the “Victims”) throughout the United States, many of whom were over age 55, by selling those Victims so-called “business services” in connection with the Victims’ purported online businesses (the “Business Opportunity Scheme”). 

In order to perpetrate the Business Opportunity Scheme, Participants, including SHAH and SMITH, engaged in a widespread, coordinated effort to traffic in lists of potential victims, or “leads,” many of whom had previously made an initial investment to create an online business with other Participants in the Scheme.  

From the indictment

Shah and Smith allegedly sold those leads to telemarketing companies that would attempt to sell business services to those people. “SHAH and SMITH, among other things, generated and sold leads to other Participants 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.  SHAH and SMITH received as profit a share of the fraudulent revenue per the terms of their agreement with those Participants.”

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