RHOSLC star Jen Shah pleads guilty to wire fraud in alleged telemarketing scam
Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection to an alleged telemarketing scam.
The Bravolebrity, who initially pleaded not guilty, changed her plea in court Monday, telling a judge that she "agreed with others to commit wire fraud" in the alleged nationwide scheme that predominantly targeted senior citizens, per Law & Crime. Shah added that she was "so sorry." She was scheduled to stand trial beginning July 18 prior to the plea change.
"Ms. Shah is a good woman who crossed a line," Shah's attorney, Priya Chaudhry, told EW in a statement. "She accepts full responsibility for her actions and deeply apologizes to all who have been harmed. Jen pled guilty because she wants to pay her debt to society and put this ordeal behind her and her family."
Shah and her assistant Stuart Smith, also a fixture on the Bravo reality series, were arrested in March 2021 on charges of wire fraud and money laundering. Authorities alleged the duo "carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims," many of whom were over the age of 55, by selling "so-called 'business services' in connection with the victims' purported online businesses."
According to the indictment, Shah and Smith sold services "including tax preparation or website design services, notwithstanding that many victims were elderly and did not own a computer." It continued, "At no point did the defendants intend that the victims would actually earn any of the promised return on their intended investment, nor did the victims actually earn such returns."
"Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their 'success,'" Peter C. Fitzhugh, Homeland Security Investigations' Special Agent-in-Charge, previously said in a statement. "In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people."
The wire fraud charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years, while the money laundering charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. According to Law & Crime, Shah faces up to 14 years in prison under the terms of her new plea agreement. She must also pay over $9 million in restitution to the victims. Shah will be sentenced in November.
Shah appeared in both seasons of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. The second season, which followed Shah as she fought the charges, concluded in March. The CEO of three marketing companies, Shah is married to University of Utah football coach Sharrieff Shah.
This article has been updated to reflect Chaudhry's statement.