RHOSLC's Lisa Barlow Says She 'Never Questioned' Jen Shah's Business Before Her Arrest
Shah and her assistant Stuart Smith were arrested and charged in March 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 — and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The two pleaded not guilty during an arraignment in April.
"I was under the impression that Jen did lead generation, and when you understand what lead generation is, it's actually extremely lucrative — I have other friends that are in that business," she told host Andy Cohen, referencing a popular marketing strategy.
"So I didn't ever think she did anything illegal, and I never questioned her business or what she was doing," Barlow continued. "Honestly, it was really none of my business. I don't like people in my business, so I didn't get in hers. But I never thought it was illegal."
During the episode, Shah, Barlow and fellow Housewives Heather Gay, Whitney Rose and Jennie Nguyen were on a bus preparing to depart for a trip to Vail, Colorado, when Shah received a phone call.
After asking Rose to help her turn off her microphone, Shah went outside to finish the conversation and then told Gay and the others that her husband Sharrieff Shah was in the hospital and she needed to leave.
Once the authorities arrived and Rose revealed to the others that she had turned Shah's mic off, Barlow realized, "It's not about Sharrieff."
When asked on WWHL who she thought Shah, 48, was talking to on the phone, Barlow admitted, "I really don't know."
She then addressed her attempts to contact Smith, telling Cohen, 52, that she was not able to reach him. Barlow also explained why she advised Gay not to reach out to Shah after she left the van.
"My first instinct was, let her go," Barlow said.
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In a press release announcing Shah's arrest earlier this year, prosecutors alleged she and Smith carried out a nationwide telemarketing scheme with the help of others between 2012 and March of this year. They are accused of having "defrauded hundreds of victims" with purported business services.
Prosecutors further claimed 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. Both "received as profit a share of the fraudulent revenue per the terms of their agreement with those participants," according to the indictment.
According to a court document obtained by PEOPLE in July, Shah and Smith are both "Tier A" defendants in the ongoing fraud case. The document claims the duo were "responsible for orchestrating the broader scheme" and "supplying the leads that sustained" the telemarketing companies.
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City airs Sundays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.