Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to sentence “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah to 10 years in prison. Their sentencing memorandum in the fraud case was submitted on Friday, December 23, 2022, court documents obtained by Heavy show.
“For nearly a decade, the defendant was an integral leader of a wide-ranging, nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme that victimized thousands of innocent people. Many of those people were elderly or vulnerable. Many of those people suffered significant financial hardship and damage,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memo. “At the defendant’s direction, victims were defrauded over and over again until they had nothing left. She and her co-conspirators persisted in their conduct until the victims’ bank accounts were empty, their credit cards were at their limits, and there was nothing more to take.”
Shah’s attorneys submitted her sentencing memo a week earlier, asking for three years in prison, according to court documents obtained by Heavy. Shah pleaded guilty to wire fraud in July just before the start of her trial. The plea agreement called for up to 14 years in prison, with the Bravo TV reality star agreeing not to appeal a sentence below that amount and prosecutors agreeing not to appeal a sentence above 11 years.
The charge carries a potential sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Stein will decide how much time Shah will spend behind bars based on federal sentencing guidelines, a recommendation from the federal probation department and the recommendations from prosecutors and Shah’s lawyers. The probation department suggested a sentence of six years in prison, according to court documents. Shah will also have to forfeit $6.5 million and pay $9.5 million in restitution, according to the plea deal.
According to court documents, Shah, 49, of Park City, Utah, admitted to her role in running the nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme that prosecutors said targeted “elderly, vulnerable victims.” The scheme took place from 2012 until 2021, when she and others, including her assistant, Stuart Smith, were arrested. Shah has been free on bond since her March 30, 2021, arrest. Smith has also pleaded guilty, but has not been sentenced.
Prosecutors Said Jen Shah ‘Took a Series of Increasingly Extravagant Steps to Conceal Her Criminal Conduct From the Authorities’ & Then ‘Tried to Profit’ Off Getting Caught
Prosecutors said in the government’s sentencing memorandum that Shah “was not deterred” by the Federal Trade Commission’s investigations and enforcement actions into her business and the fact that dozens of co-conspirators were arrested, pleaded guilty and were convicted at trial.
In the court filing, they said Shah “was not ignorant of these developments: she took a series of increasingly extravagant steps to conceal her criminal conduct from the authorities. She directed others to lie, she put businesses and bank accounts in the name of others, she required payment in cash, she instructed others to delete text messages and electronic documents, she moved some of her operations overseas, and she tried to put computers and other evidence beyond the reach of investigators. These efforts were not short-lived or narrow in scope. She engaged in a yearslong, comprehensive effort to hide her continued role in the scheme.”
Prosecutors wrote, “Despite the defendant’s best efforts, she got caught. She then went on a public offensive and tried to profit off the charges by selling ‘Justice for Jen’ merchandise. She pled guilty at the eleventh hour, only after receiving the Government’s trial exhibits and witness statements. In light of her conduct and her post-arrest behavior, her belated expressions of remorse ring hollow.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kiersten Fletcher, Robert Sobelman and Sheb Swett wrote in the memo, “The defendant’s conduct was reprehensible. She was a key leader of a multimillion-dollar, nationwide scheme that victimized elderly and vulnerable people, often pushing them into financial ruin and emotional distress. … The sentence imposed should adequately reflect how difficult it is to deter someone as persistent and cunning as the defendant. The sentence should also account for the importance of protecting the public from any potential future crimes she may commit, as the defendant is hardly someone who has demonstrated that she has suddenly turned over a new leaf after nearly a decade of crime.”
In a statement after Shah’s guilty plea, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damien Williams said, “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.”
Shah Asked for Leniency & Said in a Letter to the Judge ‘I Am Geniuenly Sorry & I Will Work for the Rest of My Life to Make It Right’
The sentencing memo submitted to the judge by Shah’s attorneys asks for leniency. Attorney Priya Chaudhry wrote about their request for three years in prison, “We submit that such a sentence is just and fair because it takes into account Ms. Shah’s history and characteristics, the facts and circumstances of the offense, and meets that a court impose a sentence that is ‘not greater than necessary’ to achieve the goals of punishment.”
Her attorney said the case has caused “embarrassment, shame and fear” for her family and cost them greatly. Chaudhry wrote, “She knows the emotional and psychological toll that her sons have already been forced to pay. These are harms for which she will spend the rest of her life atoning.”
Shah wrote a letter to the judge that she has accepted “complete responsibility” and blamed “painful personal experiences,” including the death of her father and grandmother. She wrote, “My poor judgement and bad business associations caused innocent people to lose their money and be victimized by investing in poorly structured businesses/products that I influenced or controlled. For that, I am genuinely sorry, and I will work for the rest of my life to make it right.”
Shah’s husband, Sharrieff Shah Sr., wrote in a letter to the judge that his wife has shown “great remorse” for her actions and added, “Jen has never been arrested or detained for any crime. My wife’s current legal predicament was caused by a confluence of events that came together at various points, which caused her to spiral out of control.”
Her husband, a football coach, also blamed their relationship issues, saying those caused her to “make catastrophically bad business decisions and develop relationships with awful people.” He said his constant travel was an issue. “Because of my absence, I was not able to see how badly my wife was suffering. As I think about it now, I saw her spending more time in our bedroom alone. She often fell asleep in out children’s bed waiting for me to come home,” he wrote. “She would constantly tell me that she feels so alone.”
Shah’s attorneys called her “RHOSLC” persona a “caricature,” writing in the sentencing memo, “Just as Jen Shah has never been a’‘housewife,’ little else is real about her persona and caricature as portrayed by the editors of RHOSLC.” They said the show is “heavily edited” and “semi-scripted,” and said despite her appearing on the show as “intransigent, defiant, and often even unrepentant,” about her crimes, “The effigy of Jen Shah portrayed in the RHOSLC has no bearing on who she is, whatsoever, and should not enter this court’s calculus in fashioning an appropriate sentence for the real Jen Shah.”
Prosecutors said in response, “The sentence requested by the defendant (36 months’ imprisonment) is woefully inadequate to satisfy the purposes of sentencing. In particular, such a sentence would generate unwarranted sentencing disparities with numerous of the defendant’s co-conspirators who already have been sentenced.”
They added, “To be sure, the defendant’s family may find it difficult during the defendant’s incarceration, as is true of the family members of anyone who is incarcerated. But the defendant engaged in brazen criminal conduct for nearly a decade, each day knowing that she was putting her liberty at risk and that it would hurt those closest to her if she were caught. The harm the defendant has caused to her own family through her choices and her actions should not inure to her benefit at sentencing, especially when balanced against the horrific outcomes for the Victims of her conduct. “