Real Housewives of Salt Lake City's Jen Shah Pleads Not Guilty to Fraud, Money Laundering Charges
Shah, 47, was arrested on Tuesday alongside Smith, 43, one of her assistants who has also appeared on the reality show, for their alleged involvement in a nationwide telemarketing scheme.
They have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing through which they allegedly 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.
Previously, Shah was not asked to put up a specific amount of bond in the form of cash or property, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Kiersten Fletcher requested during the arraignment to update Shah's bail conditions.
As ordered by the U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein, she must now put up a $1 million personal recognizance bond secured by $250,000 in cash or property, which must be co-signed by "two financially responsible persons." She will have two weeks to comply with the new conditions and must also hand over any travel documents, such as a passport, to the government, he added.
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Friday's proceeding was originally planned for Wednesday, but had to be rescheduled when more than 250 people called in to the virtual hearing and Shah herself was unable to access it as a result. After about 45 minutes of trying to get the call to work — with frequent interruptions from unmuted participants — the judge adjourned the meeting to Friday.
In a press release announcing their arrest earlier this week, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said, "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."
"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," Strauss continued.
Shah and Smith allegedly carried out a nationwide telemarketing scheme with the help of others between 2012 and March of this year, according to the indictment. They have been accused of having "defrauded hundreds of victims" with purported business services.
Prosecutors claim Shah and Smith's scheme was a "coordinated effort to traffic in lists of potential victims," referred to as "leads." From there, they allegedly sold those leads to telemarketing companies that would attempt to sell business services to the targeted individuals.
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The pair "received as profit a share of the fraudulent revenue per the terms of their agreement with those participants," according to the indictment.
"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. As alleged, disturbingly, Shah and Smith objectified their very real human victims as 'leads' to be bought and sold, offering their personal information for sale to other members of their fraud ring," Homeland Security Investigations special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said in a statement. "As a result, their new reality may very well turn out differently than they expected."