“Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah faces several years in prison when she is sentenced on a federal fraud charge in November 2022. Shah was set to go to trial on July 18, 2022, but made a surprise decision to plead guilty on July 11 in Manhattan federal court. Heavy has obtained her plea agreement with prosecutors, which sheds light on how much prison time she could be facing.
Shah pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection to telemarketing, a charge that carries a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison. But in her plea agreement, which can be read here, prosecutors said sentencing guidelines call for between 11 to 14 years in prison and Shah agreed to not appeal any sentence below 14 years. Shah will be sentenced on November 28, 2022.
Prosecutors & Shah’s Attorneys Will Be Able to Make Sentencing Recommendations to the Judge, but It Will Be Up to Him to Decide, Based on the Guidelines, How Long She Will Be Behind Bars
In federal court, the judge weighs sentencing recommendations from the U.S. Attorney’s office, from the defendant’s attorneys and information provided to the judge confidentially by the federal probation office in a pre-sentence report. Friends, family and other associates will be able to write letters of support for Shah, while her victims will be able to make impact statements in person or in writing.
In the federal sentencing process, the judge is the ultimate decider of the sentence. In this case, Judge Sidney Stein will consider the plea agreement and the sentencing guidelines, which call for between 135 to 168 months in prison, supervised release and a fine. He could go above or below those guidelines after weighing the above recommendations and other factors allowed in federal sentencing guidelines.
The plea agreement explains how the 11- to 14-year range was determined. Sentencing guidelines are based on offense levels, which can go up or down based on several factors. The offense Shah pleaded guilty to starts at offense level seven. Prosecutors said that the total loss for Shah’s victims was determined to be more than $3.5 million but less than $9.5 million, which increased the offense level by 18 levels.
The offense level was increased by four because more than five people suffered “substantial financial hardship” as a result of the fraud, prosecutors said in the plea agreement document. It increased by another four levels because Shah was determined to be an “organizer or leader” of “criminal activity” that “involved five or more participants or was otherwise extensive.” It was increased by two levels because she is accused of obstructing or attempting to obstruct justice during the investigation or prosecution.
According to the plea agreement, the offense level will be lowered by two levels because Shah demonstrated “acceptance of responsibility, to the satisfaction of the government, through her [allocution] and subsequent conduct prior to the imposition of sentence.” That brings her offense level to 33. Shah does not have a criminal history, so that will not factor in her sentence.
Prior to the November 28 sentencing hearing, Shah’s attorneys will have a chance to make a sentencing recommendation and ask for a sentence at the lower end or below the guidelines. Prosecutors could ask for the judge to impose the maximum sentence or ask him to land somewhere else in the range. If she is sentenced to less than 11 years in prison, prosecutors could appeal, according to the plea agreement.
Shah Will Have to Forfeit $6.5 Million to the Government, Pay Up to $9.5 Million in Restitution to Her Victims & Pay a Fine of Up to $350,000
Along with time in prison, Shah will also face a massive financial penalty. She agreed in her plea to forfeit $6.5 million to the government. She also agreed that she will not appeal any restiution to the victims of up to $9.5 million. She also faces a fine of between $35,000 to $350,000.
She will continue to be a part of the “Real Housewives” franchise up until she enters prison, a source told People. The source said, “Obviously, her legal troubles have not been easy for Jen, let alone making this decision to plead guilty. Producers don’t want us to stop following it now. They’ll keep filming with her as long as they can, just like they did with Teresa,” a reference to Teresa Giudice of the “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” who went to federal prison for 15 months on fraud charges in 2015.
The 48-year-old “RHOSLC” star had previously maintained her innocence and said on the Bravo reality show that she would be fighting the charges. Shah’s attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said in a statement to Page Six, “Jen pled guilty because she wants to pay her debt to society and put this ordeal behind her and her family. Ms. Shah is a good woman who crossed a line. She accepts full responsibility for her actions and deeply apologizes to all who have been harmed. Ms. Shah is also sorry for disappointing her husband, children, family, friends and supporters.”
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in a statement, “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. This Office is committed to rooting out these schemes whatever form they take.”