Shah will also be under custody for 5 years after her release.
New York • A judge on Friday sentenced a member of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City to 6 1/2 years in prison for conning thousands of people nationwide in a telemarketing scam, many of whom were vulnerable or elderly.
US District Judge Sidney H. Stein returned the verdict for Jennifer Shah after she sobbed through an apology over the cheating. Stein led her guilty plea in July to conspiracy charges for involvement in a massive fraud for nearly a decade.
At the beginning of Shah’s sentencing hearing, Stein warned a crowded Manhattan courtroom that he wasn’t judging the person people see on TV. Stein said this person was “just a character. It’s acting.”
He said the housewife program “involves role-playing. … It’s a heavily scripted operation.”
When Shah, 49, had a chance to speak, she too said she wasn’t the person she was on the show.
“Reality TV has nothing to do with reality,” she said. I am deeply sorry for what I have done. My actions have hurt innocent people.”
She vowed to pay $6.5 million in restitution and forfeiture if she gets out of jail and apologized to anyone who was scammed by the scam.
During the hearing, defense attorney Priya Chaudhry said her client had undergone a dramatic transformation in recent months.
“Regrets can be real, even if they show up late. … Your apology is genuine,” she said.
A prosecutor denied the reversal, saying he didn’t think she showed any remorse at all, even at her request.
Prosecutors said in a filing that Shah should serve a decade in prison, noting that she used the profits from her fraud to live a life of luxury that included a nearly 10,000-square-foot mansion with eight fireplaces, dubbed the “Shah Ski Chalet” Park City, Utah vacation paradise. The home, they said, is now up for sale for $7.4 million.
They said she also rented an apartment in midtown Manhattan, leased a Porsche Panamera, bought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of luxury goods, and financed various cosmetic procedures while cheating the IRS out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Prosecutors attacked her conduct following her arrest on March 30, 2021, saying Shah lied to law enforcement in a voluntarily taped interview before launching a public reputation-cleansing campaign in which she “repeatedly, vehemently and falsely protested her innocence.” .
The government said it also seemed to mock the charges against them, claiming “the only thing I’m guilty of is being shah-mazing,” and then capitalized on it by posting marketed “Justice for Jen” merchandise after her arrest, as she ordered others to lie while trying to hide her behavior from investigators.
The scam, authorities say, spanned from 2012 to March 2021, when it promoted bogus services that allowed people to make significant amounts of money through online businesses.
Meanwhile, defense attorneys downplayed Shah’s role in the fraud in their submission to the judge, saying “many, many people” were involved in the long-running telemarketing scheme that led so many individuals to seek worthless services from to buy companies in which Shah was involved.
They wrote that the cheating “was a mistake that not only ruined her own life but broke her heart as she witnessed the damage her actions caused.”
According to the lawyers, it was carried out “as part of an industry that operates with a fine line between legal and illegal”.
“MS. Shah has been involved in both the legitimate and fraudulent sides of this industry,” her attorneys said.
Noting that an individual previously convicted of fraud was sentenced to more than seven years in prison, the attorneys said Shah is not like co-defendants who are “essentially career scammers; people who have spent their lives hopping from plan to plan; professional scammers with no honest dollar in their name.”
They added: “Prior to committing these acts, Ms. Shah’s entire life was one of hard, honest work, respectable accomplishments and a hard-earned reputation of true generosity for more than four decades.”
https://www.sltrib.com/news/nation-world/2023/01/06/real-housewives-star-jen-shah/ ‘Real Housewives’ star Jen Shah sentenced to 78 months in prison