DAVE & DUJANOVIC
Real Housewives of SLC star faces sentencing Friday. Podcast host shares her insights.
Jan 5, 2023, 6:24 PM | Updated: Jan 6, 2023, 8:44 am
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — Just days before her sentencing, Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah traveled to Pasadena, Calif., to watch the Utah Utes play in the Rose Bowl along with her husband, Sharrieff, who is the team’s cornerbacks/special teams’ coordinator.
On March 30, 2021, Shah and her reality show assistant, Stuart Smith, were arrested in Salt Lake City, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
They were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
“Shah, who portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on ‘reality’ television, and 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,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, claiming the duo had an ulterior motive with their alleged actions, as reported by yahoo! entertainment.
Initially, the Real Housewives star pled not guilty, but in July 2022, she changed her plea to guilty.
“In 2012 to March 2021 in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere I agreed with others to commit wire fraud,” Shah told Judge Sidney Stein in a statement at the time, according to yahoo! entertainment.
Shah’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Friday in New York City.
Welcome to the show
Former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney and podcast host Emily D. Baker joins KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss the case and Shah’s likely sentence.
“Whenever we’re talking about celebrities, my concern is always are they getting special treatment: Are they being too harshly punished or are they getting off easy?” Dave asked.
“As someone who’s on Real Housewives and being prosecuted, or has been prosecuted and has now pled guilty to federal wire fraud, she’s not being treated differently because she’s on TV,” Baker said.
“These frauds, the USA’s [the United States Attorneys] said date back to 2012, long before anybody was filming Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” Baker said. “And most of the arrests in this prosecution came before the show started filming. Jen Shah knew when cameras started rolling that her co-defendants had already been arrested.”
Baker said the wire fraud charge alleges that a telemarketing scheme brought in often elderly and vulnerable victims and sold them business opportunities that had no value.
“Bringing them in and selling them a website and then coaching on how to make the website profitable and then tax help on the website — thing after thing after thing until they had no money left,” she said.
Baker added federal prosecutors labeled the Real Housewives star as the most culpable defendant in the telemarketing-fraud ring.
“The victim impact statements in the government’s sentencing are staggering. These are individuals in their 70s who have lost their life savings. It is story after story like that where Jen is directly involved,” she said.
“Do we have an idea what the number is, how much she defrauded?” Dave asked.
“She agreed to over $9 million in restitution,” Baker said. “Her co-defendants have agreed to multiple millions of restitution, so we have restitution now in the 10’s of millions of dollars.”
“She could face 100 months or more in prison at this point. We’re talking 10 years or more. What’s your take on that, Emily? What are you hearing?” Debbie asked.
“In this plea deal, they kept the sentencing range at a cap of 14 years instead of 30. But at the end of the day, it’s up to the judge to decide. The sentencing report said six years was appropriate. The prosecutors are asking for 10. Jen’s attorneys are asking for three. So even at the low end, they didn’t ask for probation like we’ve seen in other cases like Elizabeth Holmes … I think that six- to 10-year range is realistic,” Baker said.
Related reading: Jen Shah of Real Housewives SLC pleads guilty to fraud charges
Dave & Dujanovic can be heard Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL NewsRadio.
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