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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Jen Shah Sentenced to 6.5 Years in Federal Prison for Fraud

Jen Shah Sentenced to 6.5 Years in Federal Prison for Fraud – Jen Shah was sentenced to 78 months (6.5 years) in prison for her participation in a fraud scheme. Friday in New York, the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star appeared in court after pleading guilty to her role in the telemarketing scheme. Sharrieff, Shah’s husband, and their sons, Sharrieff Jr. and Omar, were present in the courtroom when the verdict was rendered.

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Shah’s attorney Priya Chaudhry issued a statement to a news outlet after the decision: “Jen Shah deeply regrets the mistakes that she has made and is profoundly sorry to the people she has hurt. Jen has faith in our justice system, understands that anyone who breaks the law will be punished, and accepts this sentence as just. Jen will pay her debt to society and when she is a free woman again, she vows to pay her debt to the victims harmed by her mistakes.”

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Friday morning, Judge Sidney Stein addressed a crowded courtroom. According to Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press, Judge Stein told attendees: “Jen Shah’s role on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, which I guess is why the courtroom is so full today, is just that, a role. People should not confuse the character she plays on an entertainment show to the person before me.” When given her own chance to speak, Lee reported that Shah said, “I am sorry. My actions have hurt innocent people. I want to apologize by saying, I am doing all I can to earn the funds to pay restitution.”

Before Shah was sentenced, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sobelman called her crimes “brazen fraud.” Per Lee, Sobelman added, “Every cooperator told us, ‘Jen Shah is the boss.’ They all knew who she was.” Before that, Judge Stein had told Chaudhry that her client “was a leader of this conspiracy,” according to Lee. Judge Stein continued, “So this cuts against you, not for you.” 

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Chaudhry later responded, “Jen has spent months reading the names of those she has hurt. She has prayed for their forgiveness. But she cannot forgive herself. Jen understands she cannot undo the pain or repay them today — but today is about justice for them. Measuring the pain.” Explaining her client’s motives, she later said, “Jen hoped that the TV spotlight would hide her pain. She spent years trying to hide her feelings, to fake it until she made it. She tried not to see the people who lost money. Her original fraud was on herself.” 

Stein countered, “Her activity in this crime took place years before The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City started. So you are saying her hunger for trinkets predates the show?” Chaudhry said, in part: “Elders, her victims, are teaching her. She regrets the mistakes she has made. She is sorry. She had faith in our justice system. Jen will pay her debt to society.” Chaudhry closed, “Ms. Shah will celebrate her 50th birthday in a federal prison. Then she will try to make whole those who lost money. She will once again make her elders proud.” 

She said later, “Longstanding untreated mental issues caused me to create my own fractured reality. This is a crucible moment for me. With the proper medication I can now see what happened. I wish I could have stood outside myself. I am sorry.” Shah addressed her younger son and her father: “To my baby Omar, Mommy is so sorry you were woken up at gunpoint. My late father, I want to tell him I am sorry. I am humbled by your love for me.”

With no further words from Shah, Judge Stein declared, “My intention is to impose a sentence of 78 months of incarceration, and other conditions.” Shah’s sentence will begin on Feb. 17. Though Judge Stein would not specify the facility on Friday, Shah will serve out her sentence somewhere in the “Texas region.” After she leaves prison, Judge Stein also ordered Shah to serve five years of supervised release “to make sure you don’t end up committing another crime,” said Stein.

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Court documents obtained by the news outlet showed victim impact statements for Shah’s alleged wrongdoings. One man said he “wasted about $40,000 trying to do good for my family,” while another said they paid $100,000. Two of the victims who gave statements said the scam drove them to homelessness. Chaudhry said at the time: “Ms. Shah is devastated by the suffering she has caused these people. She vows to dedicate her life to trying to make each one whole.” Shah did film some episodes of RHOSLC between her arrest and sentencing — though she did not film the show’s upcoming season 3 reunion.

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