Ever since Jen Shah was arrested on the side of a Utah highway after allegedly getting a heads-up call while filming the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City in a sprinter van outside a med spa, we have been waiting to find out what would happen in her case. Shah, 49, first proclaimed her innocence when she was indicted in March 2021 for her alleged role in a years-long telemarketing scheme designed to defraud the elderly (and in the timeline of the Bravo reality show, she is still insisting she did nothing wrong). Then, in July 2022, she flipped and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Just before noon this morning in New York City, U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein sentenced her to 78 months in federal prison for her crimes.
It could have been worse: The government requested a 10-year term, while Shah’s attorneys asked for three years. According to reporter Matthew Russell Lee, who was in the courtroom, Judge Stein questioned several elements of Shah’s behavior throughout the case leading up to the sentencing, including her decision to sell “Justice for Jen” merch on her website. Judge Stein also memorably described Shah as having a “hunger for trinkets”:
Before she was indicted, Shah described herself as “the Wizard of Oz” of online marketing and attributed her wealth to being a genius at getting people to click on links. According to the government, however, Shah was “an integral leader of a wide-ranging, nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme that victimized thousands of innocent people.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sobelman noted during the hearing that Shah was the “boss” who instructed her co-conspirators how to defraud “thousands” of elderly victims.
Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote in a sentencing filing that at Shah’s direction, “victims were defrauded over and over again until they had nothing left. She and her co-conspirators persisted in their conduct until the victims’ bank accounts were empty, their credit cards were at their limits, and there was nothing more to take.”
Before Judge Stein handed down her sentencing, Shah said in the hearing that she wanted to work hard to provide restitution for the victims, and that she could earn money by continuing to star on RHOSLC.
That is probably just a fantasy: She already skipped RHOSLC’s reunion taping last month in order to avoid answering questions about her case, and Andy Cohen has all but said she’s been fired. She will also be away for much longer than Teresa Giudice, the last Housewife to do time in federal prison. Giudice, of the Real Housewives of New Jersey and wedding hair fame, spent 11 months in prison in 2014 and then returned to the franchise.