Feds Slam Witness in ‘Real Housewives’ Star Jen Shah’s Trial [DOCUMENTS]

Jen Shah

Bravo Jen Shah.

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to limit what one of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah’s expert witnesses can testify about during her upcoming fraud trial. The latest filing by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office comes as Shah’s trial nears. It is slated to begin on July 18, barring any additional delays.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirsten Fletcher, Robert Sobelman and Sheb Swett sent a letter to U.S. Judge Sidney Stein on June 21, 2022, to seek an order to limit the testimony by Przemyslaw Jeziorski, a UC Berkeley marketing professor, according to court documents obtained by Heavy. A final hearing on motions in Shah’s case is set for July 5, 2022, court records show. Last month, Shah’s attorneys requested that Stein step aside if any conflicts in his schedule would cause a third delay.

Shah was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering in March 2021 and has been free on bond pending the start of her trial, which has been delayed two times. It was first set to begin in October 2021 and then in March 2022. Her arrest was documented on the second season of Bravo’s “RHOSLC.”

Prosecutors Are Objecting to a Professor Who Is Expected to Testify on Shah’s Behalf

In the letter to the judge, which can be read here, prosecutors said, “The Government respectfully seeks an order precluding the following testimony from the defendant’s proposed expert, Przemyslaw Jeziorski: (i) any opinions regarding chargeback fraud as lacking a reliable foundation; and (ii) any opinions regarding the facts of this case based on a failure to provide notice of such opinions.”

Prosecutors said Jeziorski is listed as an expert witness in “marketing analytics; quantifying and qualifying leads; lead generation methods; lead brokering; data scraping; the use of salesfloors and fulfillment companies, including commission structures; the use of CRMs; upselling; chargebacks; and general small business success rates.”

According to prosecutors, Shah’s attorneys say, Jeziorski could testify about “chargebacks,” where customers claim they didn’t receive what was purchased. Jeziorski believes fraud involving chargebacks is on the rise, with customers actually receiving what they ordered and then asking for a chargeback from their bank.

Prosecutors wrote, “These opinions are purportedly based on Jeziorski’s ‘teaching and research’ and that he ‘has written chargeback integration with payment systems for his company and has experience dealing with chargebacks.’ The disclosure provided no details of the relevant “teaching and research” or ‘experience,’ and cited no scholarly articles, treatises, or other secondary sources for these opinions.”

In the court filing, prosecutors said, “The defendant apparently intends to elicit sweeping generalizations about the habits of consumers and banks based on nothing more than Jeziorski’s own personal experience running a business and general ‘teaching and research.’ … Jeziorski should not be allowed to opine on the supposed problem of ‘chargeback fraud’ based solely on his own, limited personal experiences.” They added:

Moreover, there is no reason to believe that Jeziorski’s experience running a business would offer reliable insight into why consumers initiate chargebacks or how banks and credit card companies handle chargeback requests. If anything, Jeziorski’s proposed testimony makes it clear that businesses are often adverse to banks and consumers during the chargeback process, further undermining the notion that his opinions about chargebacks are reliable. In this case, the defendant’s disclosures do not specify the nature of Jeziorski’s business or his roles within that business, making it impossible for the Court to evaluate the reliability of such testimony and for the Government to prepare its cross-examination regarding the basis of his conclusions about chargeback fraud. Accordingly, Jeziorski should be precluded from testifying about ‘chargeback fraud.’

Shah’s Attorneys Highlighted Jeziorski’s Qualifications as a Professor

According to the resume submitted by Shah’s attorneys, Jeziorski has been a professor of marketing at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley since 2012 and previously taught at Johns Hopkins University and was a researcher at Stanford University. His research is focused on, “Quantitative Marketing, Industrial Organization, Antitrust and Regulation, Digital Marketing, Fintech.”

Her attorney, Priya Chaudry, wrote in a court filing, “If called at trial, Professor Jeziorski may testify regarding marketing analytics, specifically regarding the standard techniques that are used in data-driven marketing, such as lead qualification, targeting, and lead brokering. These techniques make up the core of data-driven marketing and are highly encouraged and taught in the field of marketing.” She added about the issue at the center of the dispute:

Professor Jeziorski may also testify regarding chargebacks, a feature of credit and debit cards mostly, in which the transaction is reversed because the payment processor believes the charge to be fraudulent or inappropriately charged. Professor Jeziorski will testify that every company has chargebacks to some degree as chargebacks are impossible to avoid. Explanations for chargebacks include, but are not limited to, a customer losing a credit card and reporting the card stolen, or a system error in which the payment processor accidentally double-charged the customer; in both examples, the merchant is forced to return the money in the form of a chargeback. Professor Jeziorski will also testify regarding chargeback fraud in which customers claim they did not receive what was purchased (although the customer did).

Shah’s assistant, Stuart Smith, pleaded guilty in November 2021 and is awaiting sentencing, which will likely come after the conclusion of Shah’s trial. Shah has said on Bravo that she is innocent and will be fighting to clear her name.

According to federal prosecutors, Shah, of Park City, Utah, is accused of being involved in a telemarketing scam that targeted elderly people. Prosecutors said in a press release after her arrest that there were 100s of victims in the case.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York at the time, Audrey Strauss, said in a statement, “Jennifer Shah, who portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on ‘reality’ television, and Stuart Smith, who is portrayed as Shah’s ‘first assistant,’ allegedly generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam. In actual reality and as alleged, the so-called business opportunities pushed on the victims by Shah, Smith, and their co-conspirators were just fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims’ money. Now, these defendants face time in prison for their alleged crimes.”