On Friday, Real Housewife of Salt Lake City Jen Shah was sentenced by a federal judge to 78 months, or six and half years, in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Shah’s sentencing caps what has been an almost two-year saga, which began with an early 2021 arrest. Shah will have to surrender herself to prison on February 17, 2023, and will be subject to five years of supervised release after serving her sentence.
Before she admitted to being a wire fraudster, Shah had made a name for herself on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. She rose to fame by flaunting her money on television and starting fights with her fellow cast members, in particular by calling ex-Housewife Mary Cosby a “grandpa fucker” (Cosby married her step-grandfather and has a child by him). In their season-long spat, Cosby said that Shah smelled like a hospital. And with that, Bravo had a delirious first season hit on its hands.
But the charges Shah faces aren’t as frivolous as the petty fights on a Bravo television show. Authorities say, and Shah admitted, that she used telemarketing to target and defraud unwitting strangers, many of whom were older and living off their savings.
During the sentencing, Assistant US Attorney Robert Sobelman spoke about how Shah showed no remorse about defrauding her victims, pointing out one case in which Shah reportedly mocked an 80-year-old victim to her fellow defendants. Sobelman stated that there were “thousands” of victims just like the ones she mocked.
Shah and her attorney Priya Chaudhry spoke about Shah’s remorse, saying that she’s had a change of heart. Hearing the victims’ accounts, Chaudhry said, made Shah realize the massive amount of fraud and damage she had done. Shah said that her television persona, including her “Shah-mazing” tagline, were all Bravo’s doing. Shah also seemed to imply that the judge should be more lenient to her scheme because she is an immigrant.
“I stand before you as an immigrant from Tonga and Hawaii,” she said (Hawaii is a US state), stating that she violated Hawaiian and Tongan culture by committing crimes against elderly people. “The principles are humility and loyalty and respect. I have come to terms I have gone against these. I am sorry. My actions have hurt innocent people.”
en Shah isn’t the first criminal to be sentenced, nor will she be the last. But there are a few elements that make her case striking: For one thing, she’s part of a growing trend of lawbreakers who are convicted and sentenced while starring on reality shows — from her fellow Real Housewife Teresa Giudice to Chrisley Knows Best stars Todd and Julie Chrisley. But while others have been rung up on charges from DUIs and assault to tax and bankruptcy fraud, Shah stands out for running a criminal conspiracy with unwitting elderly victims. And she did it, supposedly, before and during Bravo’s filming.
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