Jen Shah, the embattled “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” reality star who pleaded guilty in July to one count of fraud, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for her role in a telemarketing scheme.
Judge Sidney H. Stein ruled Friday that the Bravo celebrity would spend 78 months in prison for fraud conspiracy after admitting to participating in a nationwide telemarketing scheme, despite prosecutors’ suggested sentence of 120 months, in addition to five years of supervision after her release.
As part of her plea agreement, Shah agreed to forfeit $6.5 million and pay $9.5 million in restitution.
“I intend to repay every red cent,” Shah stated in her court statement on Friday.
The judge ordered the reality star to turn herself in to authorities on February 17 to begin her sentence.
Fans attend the sentencing hearing to learn about the prison time and outfit.
Bravo fans gathered outside the Manhattan courthouse in rainy conditions hours before the scheduled hearing, hoping to be among the first to learn how long the reality TV star would be imprisoned.
Aside from her impending prison sentence, fans were curious about what Shah, who is frequently seen on screen wearing designer labels and ornate jewellery, would wear to hear her fate. Before hearing the final words from Shah’s attorneys and prosecutors, the judge stated unequivocally that her Bravo personality was not present in the courtroom.
“A character your client plays… is simply a character,” Stein explained, noting that Shah’s television presence is “a heavily scripted operation.” He also stated that the court will not “conflate” reality and acting.
Shah, dressed in a camel-colored suit and leopard print stiletto heels, exited the elevators flanked by security and court officers. When she entered the courtroom, she sat between her husband, Sharrieff, and their eldest son, Sharrieff Jr., before joining her attorneys for the duration of the proceedings.
Attorneys claim that victim statements influenced Shah’s plea.
Shah initially pleaded not guilty to fraud conspiracy charges and maintained her innocence for more than a year while continuing to film for “RHOSLC.”
Priya Chaudhry, Shah’s attorney, stated that the defendant’s efforts to maintain innocence “ended” after the defendant read statements from victims of her telemarketing scheme, which consisted of promoting bogus services as capable of enabling people to make money through online businesses.
“Remorse can be genuine even if it arrives late,” Chaudry explained.
Prosecutors claim Shah defrauded thousands of people across the country, including some over the age of 55. Shah’s attorneys stated that their client was largely unaware of the fraud because she did not communicate with or see her victims while running her business. Prosecutors called Shah’s indifference to the harm she caused victims “preposterous.”
According to prosecuting attorney Robert Sobelman, Shah ran her own sales floor and hired people because she was in New York “half the year” for business. Sobelman stated in his statement to Stein that prosecutors allegedly found messages in her phone “laughing” with her co-conspirators about “defrauding people.”
Sobelman stated that if the evidence gathered against Shah had gone to trial, the outcome would be “devastating,” and Shah’s alleged offences would be “prolific” in comparison to her co-conspirators.
The sentencing on Friday was originally scheduled for November. Authorities apprehended Shah for the first time in March 2021 in Salt Lake City, while Bravo cameras were rolling ahead of a girls trip to Vail, Colorado. Stuart Smith, Shah’s assistant, was also arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. According to People, Smith pleaded guilty in November.
She stated in her statement that her reality TV persona was “invented, designed, and edited” for entertainment purposes. Shah also apologised to her family for the “shame” and “embarrassment” she had caused them.
During Wednesday’s episode of “RHOSLC,” Shah spoke with her therapist about how the trial has affected her family.
“I don’t feel in control,” Shah told her therapist in the episode. “I’m concerned that, as a mother, I’ve done something that has harmed Omar.” This should never happen to a child.”
In court, she apologised specifically to her youngest son Omar for the “trauma” he endured after officers drew guns on him while attempting to arrest his mother in March 2021.
“I’m so sorry, Mommy,” Shah said. “I accept the consequences of my actions completely.”
After Shah’s July hearing, US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that the actor was a “key participant” in a “scheme that targeted elderly, vulnerable victims.”
More:’Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ star Jen Shah arrested and charged in massive telemarketing scheme
Prosecutors claim Shah ran the telemarketing scheme’s Manhattan sales floor and oversaw day-to-day operations while also shifting some of the company’s operations to Kosovo to avoid law enforcement and regulatory scrutiny.
Prosecutors said Shah took several steps to conceal her role in the fraud, including incorporating her business entities in the names of third parties, instructing others to do the same, and directing others to communicate using encrypted messaging apps.