Jennifer Shah, a cast member on the “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison on Friday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a telemarketing fraud case.
Shah, 49, was also ordered to pay $6.5 million in forfeiture and restitution to victims of the nationwide telemarketing scheme, which targeted elderly and vulnerable people.
At the sentencing, Shah was wearing a camel pant suit, accompanied by her husband, Sharrieff, who was wearing a slate blue suit and was introduced by defense attorney Priya Chaudhry.
Judge Sidney Stein was firm in saying that Shah’s role on the show played no role in the sentencing decision.
“The character your client plays on the ‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ is simply a character,” Stein told the attorneys. “The ‘Real Housewives’ franchise involves role playing, editing. People should not confuse, and this court is not going to confuse, the character she plays on an entertainment show with the person I have before me.”
“For the rest of Ms. Shah’s life she will remember their names,” Chaudhry said of the victims. “Ms. Shah knows she has devastated the lives of so many.”
Stein, during the expression of sympathy for victims of a crime, questioned if Shah was still selling “Free Jen” and “Justice for Jen” merchandise on her website. Chaudhry responded that Shah had removed the items and had saved the proceeds for restitution. The defense argued that Shah was aware of the victims having little to begin with, but when Chaudhry said none had spoken to Shah directly, Stein interjected.
“Because she was too high in the conspiracy to deal with victims,” Stein said. “She was too important. She was a leader. So the fact that she never talked to a victim works against you.”
Federal prosecutors have labeled it “preposterous” to portray the actions of convicted telemarketer, Shah, as merely selling lists to other telemarketers in order to defraud.
Silverman, the prosecutor, said that it was difficult to hear the defense cast Shah as unaware of her crimes’ severity. The prosecutor commented that Shah was “prolific” in her scheme, and made a great deal of money from it.
Shah conceded that she had “struggled to accept responsibility for the longest time” but said that she now accepts responsibility for her actions and expressed “profound and deep” remorse. Silverman, however, expressed doubt in Shah’s expression of remorse, citing a lack of messages expressing the sentiment.