Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah claimed that cops used “deception and trickery” so she would waive Miranda rights — namely, the right to remain silent — following her March 30 telemarketing-fraud arrest. Shah also said that “her vision was blurry and she was unable to read the paper in front of her” when waiving these rights because of “dry” contact lenses and not having her reading glasses, according to Manhattan federal court documents filed Monday.
Shah’s lawyers, which include former prosecutor Daniel R. Alonso, made these claims about Miranda rights and contact lenses as part of their efforts to dismiss the case against her. Their filings also detail circumstances surrounding Shah’s arrest, which are important to understanding how her eyesight even comes up in the first place.
According to these court papers, Shah was arrested en route to recording an episode of RHOSLC. Before cops stopped Shah, she allegedly got a phone call from an unidentified person, who said that her husband, Sharrieff Shah, had told the unknown caller that she should return home. She allegedly tried calling her husband right away, but he didn’t pick up. Shah started to get worried about him, her lawyers maintained.
Then, Shah got a call from a 917 phone number. This caller identified himself as New York Police Department detective Christopher Bastos. Shah thought this call was related to a case in New York, where she got a restraining order against someone who had stolen from her and then “assaulted her” in Salt Lake City, her lawyers said.
(There aren’t a lot of details on this second unnamed person, who’s identified only as “Individual-1” in court papers. However, Shah’s lawyers did write that “Individual-1” doesn’t appear to be charged in the telemarketing indictment, but is “on the government’s list of people involved in the scheme.” So, details are vague here, but it looks like a person who assaulted Shah is somehow implicated in this case.)
Bastos didn’t say why he was calling, but told Shah to pull over. Minutes later, Bastos drove up with other law-enforcement agents; Shah was cuffed and told there was a warrant for her arrest.
Shah kept asking, “Am I under arrest?” and, “Am I going to jail?” Bastos “never answered” these questions, but repeatedly made statements which effectively meant, “We just want to talk to you” and, “I promise we just want to talk to you,” her lawyers said.
Bastos also told Shah, “We just want to make sure you’re okay,” her lawyers contended. She was ultimately taken to a room where Bastos read Shah the Miranda warnings from a printed paper and handed her a copy to read.
While she could hear Bastos read the warnings, “Ms. Shah’s contact lenses, which were in her eyes, were dry, and she did not have her reading glasses, so her vision was blurry and she was unable to read the paper in front of her,” her defense argued.
And when Bastos was reading her rights, Shah didn’t know what was happening and “still thought it might be a potential misidentification.” She wanted to know what was up and thought the “only way she was finally going to get an answer was to sign the paper and waive her rights.”
At one point, Shah even signed next to the wrong line because she couldn’t see the paper. Bastos reread the line to ensure Shah knew what she was signing, her lawyers claimed.
After Shah signed the Miranda waiver — despite now claiming she was not able to read it — she told Bastos that her contacts were blurry. He found Shah’s contact solution in her purse, uncuffed her, and let her fix the contact, per her lawyers. Then, she was cuffed to the chair again.
Shah says she didn’t really understand what was happening until Bastos ended their hour-and-20-minute-long conversation, when he told her what she was charged with. Shah didn’t admit to any fraud, despite Bastos’s many efforts during their conversation, her lawyers said.
Her lawyers claimed that although Shah waived her Miranda rights, “she did not do so voluntarily, but rather as a direct result of law-enforcement deception and trickery calculated to overpower her will.” They argued that because of the circumstances — the fact that Shah got a cryptic phone call, allegedly wasn’t apprised why she was being taken in right away, and her inability to read the paper — rendered her statements “involuntary.”