Jen Shah, ‘Real Housewives of SLC’ star, pleads guilty to wire fraud
NEW YORK — “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah has pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges.
Shah previously pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering after being accused of running a nationwide telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims throughout the U.S. — most of them senior citizens.
According to NBC News, Shah entered into the agreement with federal prosecutors, changing her plea to guilty to a count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud Monday morning in a New York courtroom.
“Jennifer Shah was a key participant in a nationwide scheme that targeted elderly, vulnerable victims. These victims were sold false promises of financial security but instead Shah and her co-conspirators defrauded them out of their savings and left them with nothing to show for it,” said Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Shah faces a sentence of up to 14 years in prison and agreed to forfeit $6.5 million and to pay restitution up to $9.5 million. She is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein on Nov. 28.
Shah was arrested in March 2021. Officials also arrested Shah’s assistant, 43-year-old Stuart Smith, of Lehi.
Both pleaded not guilty the next month, but Smith changed his plea to guilty in November.
Prosecutors said Shah and Smith, as well as an unspecified number of other participants, had carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of older and computer illiterate people across the U.S. from 2012 to 2021.
The scheme involved selling lists of potential victims who had made initial investments in creating an online business, and it had operations in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New York and New Jersey, according to the Department of Justice.
“Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their ‘success,’” according to Peter C. Fitzhugh, Homeland Security Investigations special agent in charge. “In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people.”
NBC News reported that Shah, 48, said in court she “knew it was wrong, many people were harmed and I’m so sorry.”
She admitted that she “agreed with others to commit wire fraud” and “knew it misled” victims.
Shah added there was a “misrepresentation of the product … regarding value of the service,” noting it “had little to no value.”
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