LOWER MANHATTAN, New York – Real Housewives of Salt Lake City cast member Jennifer Shah was sentenced to six and a half years in prison on Friday.
Judge Sidney Stein said Shah’s role on RHOSLC played no role in his sentencing decision.
“The character your client plays on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City is just a character,” Stein told the attorneys. “The Real Housewives franchise includes role-playing, editing. People should not confuse, and this court is not going to confuse, the character she plays in an entertainment show with the person who is in front of me.”
The Shah in camel trousers sat between two lawyers. Her husband, Sharif, sat behind her in a slate blue suit. He raised his hand when he was introduced by lawyer Priya Chaudhry.
“For the rest of her life, Ms. Shah will remember their names,” Chaudhry said of the victims. “Ms. Shah knows that she has devastated the lives of many.”
Stein interrupted her condolences to ask, “Does she still sell Free Jen and Justice for Jen merchandise on her website, or has it been taken down?”
Chaudhry said Shah no longer sells the items and has kept the proceeds for reimbursement.
The defense insisted that Shah understood that the victims “had very little and now they will struggle even more”, but when Chaudhry said that none of the victims had ever spoken directly to Shah, Judge Stein intervened.
“Because she was too high up in the conspiracy to deal with victims,” Stein said. “She was too important. She was a leader. So the fact that she never spoke to the victim works against you.’
Federal prosecutors called it “ridiculous” to portray Shah as simply selling lists to defraud other telemarketers.
“She’s laughing at the text messages that say she’s scamming these people,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Silverman said. “It’s not like she just sent someone a computer file.”
Silverman said it was “very difficult” to hear the defense say Shah was self-deluded and somehow unaware of the seriousness of her crimes.
“This is a decade, day after day, of hard work to deceive people,” said the prosecutor. “This defendant was prolific. She made a lot of money from this scheme.’
Shah admitted she “struggled for a long time to accept responsibility” but said she now accepts responsibility for her actions.
“I am deeply and deeply sorry,” Shah said.
Silverman questioned Shah’s expressions of remorse.
“There is not a single message that expresses remorse,” Silverman said. “It’s fair to conclude that she didn’t feel that way.”
Silverman talked about victims of fraud.
“These are elderly, vulnerable women whose lives have been turned upside down by the defendant’s telemarketing fraud,” he said.
The six-and-a-half-year sentence is less than the 10 years the prosecution had sought, but more than double what the defense had hoped for.
Shah was ordered to pay $6.6 million in restitution as part of the sentence, along with a forfeiture of $6.5 million. The judge also approved the seizure of “a large number of items: purses, wallets, jewelry, and so on.”
The judge said he was “a little concerned that Shah’s manager was present in court”. He warned her against trying to profit from her crime and instead focus on raising money to pay back the victims.
“Ms. Shah was an integral part of the scheme,” Judge Stein said. “No victim has ever earned any of the promised refund.”
Shah tearfully apologized for bringing “shame, embarrassment and pain” to her family and broke down even more when she told her youngest son Omar: “Mum I’m so sorry for the trauma you went through when you were woken up under threat pistol. “the day of her arrest.
When Shah promised to “return every cent”, the judge interrupted him and asked: “How are you going to do that?”
She answered uncertainly, guided by her lawyer: “I plan to use my platform and raise money that way when I get out of prison. I hope I can work again.”
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‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ star Jennifer Shah convicted in telemarketing scheme
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