Update, Monday July 11:34 a.m.: Jen Shah has changed her plea ahead of trial. According to court documents, a judge accepted Jen Shah’s guilty plea for one count of participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Original story published July 5 follows.
Jen Shah appeared in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, July 5, for the final proceeding before her telemarketing fraud trial, which starts with jury selection on July 18. An affable but serious Judge Sidney Stein told Shah’s team and prosecutors that the trial would start at 9:30 a.m. with jury selection. The prosecution said their case might take between two and a half to three weeks, while the defense said their case might take from one and a half to two weeks. This means Bravo viewers and Real Housewives of Salt Lake City loyalists might get five whole weeks of a trial, not counting jury deliberations. Stein made clear that he expected trial proceedings to go efficiently and respectfully. He made these comments after both sides engaged in procedural barb-trading. “This is not going to be a trial of surprises,” Stein said. “Surprise, in this context, does not make sense.” Stein also said he doesn’t want “personal sniping. Everyone needs to settle down in this case.”
Shah was arrested on March 30, 2021, on charges of wire-fraud conspiracy and money-laundering conspiracy for her role in an alleged “telemarketing scheme.” Her assistant, Stuart Smith, was also arrested for the alleged fraud. Smith, who appeared often on Real Housewives alongside his then-boss Shah, pleaded guilty on November 19, 2021. Charging paperwork alleged that between 2012 and March 2021, Shah and Stuart “carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims” across the country, “many of whom were over age 55.” Federal prosecutors claimed that Shah and Smith did this by peddling sketchy “business services” to the alleged victims. One of Shah’s attorneys, Seth Zuckerman, said during the proceeding this afternoon that Smith would be taking the stand against her as a “government witness.”
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star wore an ink-toned pantsuit with white checkers-like lines, a white ruffle button-down blouse, and what appeared to be Valentino sunglasses to court. She carried a large red Gucci purse and wore a belt with a rhinestone-encrusted Gucci buckle. As she entered the courthouse, Shah had to swap a surgical mask for a higher grade N-95 style protective mask because of court COVID-19 protocols. “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,” then-Manhattan U.S. attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement about her arrest. “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.”
Shah pleaded not guilty after her arrest. She had previously alleged that police used “deception and trickery” so that she’d waive her Miranda rights — notably, the right to remain silent — after her apprehension. She also claimed that “her vision was blurry and she was unable to read the paper in front of her” when waiving said rights due to “dry” contacts and not having her reading glasses. Shah did not comment as she left the courthouse today.