Jen Shah appeared in a Manhattan court on July 11 where, in a surprise move, she changed the plea in her fraud count from not guilty to guilty. The “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star was arrested in March 2021 “for her involvement in a statewide telemarketing program,” according to People Magazine. She had pleaded not guilty at the time. Since then, Shah had been awaiting her trial, which was scheduled to begin on July 18. However, their plans have changed drastically. During her court appearance, Shah told the judge that she was guilty of “wire fraud” and “offering services of little to no value,” according to Matthew Russell Lee, who broadcast live from the hearing via the Twitter account of Inner City Press tweeted.
“We used interstate phones and email. I knew that many of the buyers were over 55 years old. I’m so sorry,” Shah told the judge, according to Lee. According to ABC News, Shah agreed to a plea bargain before going to court on July 11. She faces up to 14 years in prison and will pay the victims up to $9.5 million in compensation. The outlet reports that she also agreed to forfeit $6.5 million. Her sentencing is scheduled for November 28.
Nicki Swift spoke to former federal prosecutor and West Coast Trial Lawyers President Neama Rahmani about why Shah made the decision to plead guilty before her trial.
Jen Shah wanted a lighter sentence, says expert
So what is the likely reason why Jen Shah decided to change her request in her cheating case? “Shah’s plea will reduce her sentence,” Neama Rahmani told Nicki Swift exclusively. “One of the factors that judges consider is taking responsibility, even if the lawsuit comes close to trial. Shah saw the ‘writing on the wall’ and knew that if she brought her case before a jury, she would be convicted.” He added, “The federal prosecutors in Manhattan are some of the best at dealing with fraud cases. Shah would not be a sympathetic defendant, especially when she has cheated many elderly victims out of millions of dollars. Reaching an agreement and hoping for a lighter sentence is the best she could do under the circumstances.”
According to CBS News, the charges brought against Shah could have seen her behind bars for up to 30 years. By agreeing to a plea deal, Shah cuts that time in half — at least. Shah won’t be the first “Real Housewives” star to go to federal prison. Back in 2014, Real Housewives of New Jersey stars Teresa Giudice and her then-husband Joe Giudice were sentenced to prison for fraud. According to People magazine, Teresa spent about 15 months behind bars while Joe served 41 months in prison before being deported.