'Real Housewives of Salt Lake City' Star Jen Shah Pleads Guilty To Telemarketing Scam

·4 min read
Jen Shah on “Watch What Happens Live” in 2020. (Photo: Bravo via Getty Images)
Jen Shah on “Watch What Happens Live” in 2020. (Photo: Bravo via Getty Images)

Jen Shah on “Watch What Happens Live” in 2020. (Photo: Bravo via Getty Images)

Jenn Shah, a cast member on Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” has pleaded guilty to defrauding hundreds of victims in a yearslong telemarketing scheme.

The controversial reality star — who was fired from the show earlier this year for “offensive” social media posts — appeared in a New York court on Monday to take part in a change of plea hearing in which she changed her previous plea of not guilty. Shah pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing. 

She also agreed to forfeit $6.5 million and to pay restitution up to $9.5 million.

Shah now faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, according to the DOJ.

But as CNN pointed out, the guidelines are only advisory. She will be sentenced later this year on Nov. 28.

“In 2012 to March 2021 in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, I agreed with others to commit wire fraud,” Shah told Judge Sidney Stein in court, reading from a prepared statement, according to ABC News. “I knew this was wrong. I knew many people were harmed and I’m so sorry.”

On Monday, photos of Shah entering the hearing were shared on social media by Josh Russell, a Manhattan federal court reporter for Courthouse News.

Prosecutors said that since 2012, Shah and others sold so-called “business services” to the alleged victims throughout the country. This included website design services to seniors who didn’t own computers, CNN reported.

Shah, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, began operating a Manhattan-based sales floor in 2017. The DOJ said in its statement Shah controlled the day-to-day operations of the Manhattan sales floor between 2018 and 2020. Shah and other participants also allegedly attempted to hide their crimes by using encrypted messaging apps, registering companies under the name of family members and others, and setting up an offshore bank account and business operations in Kosovo, according to court filings and prosecutors.

Shah on a reunion special of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” in 2021. (Photo: Bravo via Getty Images)
Shah on a reunion special of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” in 2021. (Photo: Bravo via Getty Images)

Shah on a reunion special of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” in 2021. (Photo: Bravo via Getty Images)

Shah was arrested and charged along with her business partner Stuart Smith in March 2021.

“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,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss previously said in a March press release. “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.”

A Season 1 promo photo of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” stars Lisa Barlow, Mary Cosby, Heather Gay, Shah, Whitney Rose and Meredith Marks. (Photo: Bravo via Getty Images)
A Season 1 promo photo of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” stars Lisa Barlow, Mary Cosby, Heather Gay, Shah, Whitney Rose and Meredith Marks. (Photo: Bravo via Getty Images)

A Season 1 promo photo of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” stars Lisa Barlow, Mary Cosby, Heather Gay, Shah, Whitney Rose and Meredith Marks. (Photo: Bravo via Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement Monday that 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,” Williams said.

Shah’s arrest, though not on camera, and its aftermath were extensively covered in Season 2 of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.” On the reality show, fellow cast members speculated and sparred over the culpability of Shah’s business — and Shah maintained her innocence until her guilty plea Monday.

She even went as far as to state in a tagline for show promos that “the only thing I’m guilty of is being Shah-mazing.”

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.