Jen Shah, one of the breakout stars of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, was arrested on federal charges on Tuesday for allegedly running a nationwide telemarketing scheme. One of Shah's assistants who appeared on the Bravo show, Stuart Smith, was also arrested. They are both facing prison time.
Shah, 47, and Smith, 43, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering. They appeared in Salt Lake City federal court on Tuesday afternoon. They were released and not asked to enter pleas, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. They were ordered "not dissipate cash or assets" or "spend any money from personal or company accounts" in excess of $10,000. They must attend all upcoming hearings, cannot have contact with each other, cannot commit new crimes and can't travel outside of Utah except to New York for court hearings.
According to allegations from the indictment, Shah and Smith carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims, many over the age of 55.
"Jennifer Shah, who portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on 'reality' television, and Stuart 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," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement on Tuesday. "In actual reality and as alleged, the so-called business opportunities pushed on the victims by Shah, Smith, and their co-conspirators were just fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims' money. Now, these defendants face time in prison for their alleged crimes."
Shah and Smith are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing through which they victimized 10 or more persons over the age of 55, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
"Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their 'success.' In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people," added HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh.
According to Shah's Bravo bio, she is the "CEO of three marketing companies." However, it was unclear to viewers — and castmates — at times how she sustained her wealth.
RHOSLC debuted in November with Shah at the center of most of the Season 1 drama. Shah continued to make headlines after the season wrapped. She was accused of abusing her staff, which she has denied. She was brought back for Season 2, which is currently in production. It's unclear if cameras were rolling when she was arrested.
Shah isn't the first Housewife to face federal charges. Bravo cameras followed Teresa and Joe Giudice's journey on The Real Housewives of New Jersey when they were arrested on fraud and tax charges. The former spouses both went to prison.
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