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Jen Shah, 'Real Housewives' star, sentenced to 6 1/2 years for telemarketing fraud

Jennifer Shah arrives to federal court in New York, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.
Seth Wenig
/
AP
Jennifer Shah arrives to federal court in New York, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

Jennifer Shah, a cast member of Bravo's Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, was sentenced to 6 and 1/2 years in prison for running a nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme. The ploy involved taking thousands of dollars from elderly and vulnerable people, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Shah, 49, had previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing.

In addition to her prison stint, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein sentenced Shah to an additional five years of supervised release. Stein also ordered her to pay more than $6.6 million in restitution and to forfeit $6.5 million, 30 luxury items and 78 counterfeit luxury items.

"With today's sentence, Jennifer Shah finally faces the consequences of the many years she spent targeting vulnerable, elderly victims. These individuals were lured in by false promises of financial security, but in reality, Shah and her co-conspirators defrauded them out of their savings and left them with nothing to show for it," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

Priya Chaudhry, Shah's attorney, said that the reality star "deeply regrets the mistakes that she has made and is profoundly sorry to the people she has hurt."

"Jen has faith in our justice system, understands that anyone who breaks the law will be punished, and accepts this sentence as just.," Chaudry said in a statement. "Jen will pay her debt to society and when she is a free woman again, she vows to pay her debt to the victims harmed by her mistakes."

Prosecutors say Shah played a lead role in the crime that targeted and victimized thousands of people across the country. The scheme lasted from 2012 until she and her assistant Stuart Smith were arrested in March 2021.

Victims of the fraud were convinced to invest in bogus business opportunities and spend money on services, such as web design help or tax preparation. Many of those victims were elderly people, some of whom didn't even own a computer, court documents say. Shah also intentionally sold contact information for those victims to others in the larger fraud ring. The victims were targeted repeatedly until they were out of money, prosecutors said.

Shah turned around and used the money to spend lavishly on herself and her family, prosecutors said.

She also flaunted her wealth on the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, a reality show that follows affluent women and documents their drama. Season three aired on Bravo in September.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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