Jen Shah's Husband Could Be Liable to Pay $9 Million Restitution, Expert Says: 'This Is Their Debt'

Jen Shah has been married to Sharrieff Shah since 1994

Jen Shah faces up to 30 years in prison time after entering a guilty plea to fraud charges resulting from her controversial telemarketing scheme, but she's not the only one who might be on the hook for her alleged crimes.

Her husband Sharrieff Shah could also be liable for up to $9 million in restitution payments, legal commentator and former L.A. Deputy District Attorney Emily D. Baker tells PEOPLE.

Baker walked through what is at stake for the longtime couple in an exclusive conversation, including what might happen if The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star — who agreed to forfeit $6 million and pay restitution of $9 million — is unable to pay that money.

"First, the forfeiture. The forfeiture allows for substituting of assets. So, any assets that she owns can be forfeited to the government to cover that $6.5 million in forfeiture," explains Baker. "That also depends on how much they took when they did the search warrant, because they had the right to grab money, property, things like that."

She adds, "So, the government might already have some money or property of hers."

Jen Shah
Jen Shah. Chad Kirkland/Bravo/ Getty

Baker points out that the government "had some money" from Jen's assistant Stuart Smith, who has also plead guilty for their business crimes. "They also said that for some of it, she could be jointly and separately liable with Stuart depending on if there's restitution. So, it might be a split," she says.

"There's a funny sentence in the plea deal that they could be jointly and separately liable together, and that would be very interesting, because that would reduce it," Baker continues. "But if she can't pay, there's not much she can do. It will always be there, and they can garnish any income. If she writes a book, they can garnish that. So, after the forfeiture is done, they can go after any income."

Jen and Sharrief Shah
Jen Shah Instagram

But Baker, who also runs a popular YouTube channel and podcast, says the income the government could pursue "includes marital property."

"Things that are separate to him, no, but anything [they share as a married couple, yes] — and that can be his income and stuff like that," she explains. "Most things are going to be considered marital property, so yes. This is their debt. It's in her name, but he's not going to be able to have marital property that's not a potential to be attached for this restitution."

Even if Jen and Sharrieff were to divorce, Baker says it "wouldn't matter." Sharrieff, who is a football coach at the University of Utah, would still be liable "because this is now accumulated during the marriage."

Jen and Sharrief Shah
Jen Shah/Instagram

Jen and Smith were arrested in March. They were accused of defrauding hundreds of people, specifically targeting individuals over the age of 55. They both pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering, but Smith changed his plea in November 2021. He still awaits sentencing.

The Bravo star, 48, maintained her innocence until Monday, when she appeared at a change of plea hearing and pleaded guilty to fraud.

"Ms. Shah is a good woman who crossed a line. She accepts full responsibility for her actions and deeply apologizes to all who have been harmed," Jen's attorney Priya Chaudhry said in a statement to PEOPLE.

"Ms. Shah is also sorry for disappointing her husband, children, family, friends, and supporters," the lawyer continued. "Jen pled guilty because she wants to pay her debt to society and put this ordeal behind her and her family."

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Jen has been married to Sharrieff since 1994. The longtime pair share two sons, Sharrieff Shah Jr. and Omar.

The RHOSLC star is expected to be sentenced on Nov. 28. She faces up to 30 years in prison and has agreed not to appeal if she is sentenced to "168 months' prison or fewer" (equivalent to up to 14 years).

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