A Bravo reality TV star has pleaded guilty to defrauding hundreds of victims, including some elderly ones, through a decade-long telemarketing scam.
Jennifer Shah, a cast member on the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in New York.
According to her plea agreement with prosecutors, the federal sentencing guidelines could see her serve between 11 and 14 years in prison.
“I knew this was wrong, I know many people were harmed, and I am so sorry,” Shah told a judge, who can ignore the guidelines, in Manhattan’s federal court on Monday.
As part of her deal, the 48-year-old has agreed to pay $6.5m in forfeiture and up to $9.5m in restitution. Her guilty plea came as the case was set to go to trial.
Shah was arrested in 2021 while Bravo was filming the show, with it featuring as a main storyline.
During episodes of the show she repeatedly proclaimed her innocence, even stating in a promo for the show, “the only thing I’m guilty of is being Shah-mazing”.
“Jennifer Shah was a key participant in a nationwide scheme that targeted elderly, vulnerable victims. These victims were sold false promises of financial security but instead, Shah and her co-conspirators defrauded them out of their savings and left them with nothing to show for it,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
“This Office is committed to rooting out these schemes whatever form they take.”
Prosecutors say that since 2012, Shah and others had sold “business services”, including website design services to some elderly victims who did not even own a computer.
Authorities say that Shah and others also sold the names of individuals that they knew would be defrauded by other participants in the scheme.
Prosecutors say that Shah used profits from the scheme to fund the luxurious lifestyle that viewers saw her portray on the show.
She is set to be sentenced on 28 November.