Big news out of a Manhattan federal courtroom today, as Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah has pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing.
In exchange for the plea, the prosecutor in Shah’s case dropped a second charge against her, conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Before Jen accepted the plea deal, the judge in her case made sure that she understood the severity of the penalties she now faces.
And those penalties are quite severe …
Shah, 48, now faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and five years of supervised release.
She previously faced 50 years behind bars.
Jen’s trial was scheduled to begin next Monday, but those proceedings won’t be necessary now.
Her next appearance in court will be for a sentencing hearing that’s tentatively scheduled for November.
In their plea deal filing, Jen’s attorneys urged the judge to let her off with a comparatively light sentence of only 11 to 14 years behind bars and restitution of up to $9.5 million.
Up until today, Shah had denied any wrongdoing.
But when asked by the judge to describe her crimes, the disgraced reality star offered a detailed account which suggested that she knew exactly what she was doing.
“Wire fraud, offering services with little to no value. We used interstate telephones and emails,” Shah explained to the court this morning.
“I knew many of the purchasers were over the age of 55. I am so sorry,” she continued.
“Did you know it was wrong and illegal?” asked the judge.
“Yes, your Honor,” Jen replied.
Shah was arrested in March 2021 due to her alleged involvement in a nationwide telemarketing scheme.
She pled not guilty the following month, but clearly the prospect of spending the rest of her life (or at least the next 50 years) behind bars led her to consider the plea deal offered by prosecutors.
“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,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss wrote in a press release following Shah’s arrest.
“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,” he continued.
“Now, these defendants face time in prison for their alleged crimes.”
Throughout the months of bad press and mounting evidence against her, Jen maintained her innocence, and she repeatedly promised fans that she would be vindicated once her case went to trial.
“I think what people don’t understand is, here in America, you’re innocent until proven guilty. I’m innocent,” she said in September 2021 during an Instagram Live session.
“And I believe that this is not just my test, this is everybody’s test close to me and in my corner,” she continued.
Needless to say, that test did not turn out well for Jen and her faithful assistant.
Shah has not yet publicly commented on today’s surprising developments.
We’ll have further updates on this developing story as new information becomes available.