The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jennifer Shah was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of conspiracy to wire fraud and money laundering for her role in a “telemarketing scheme,” the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office announced. Shah’s assistant, Stuart Smith, was also arrested on suspicion of fraud.
A federal judge in Utah agreed Tuesday afternoon to release the pair with certain restrictions: They cannot talk to each other or “engage in telemarketing.” Another court appearance is expected Wednesday in Manhattan, where the case is being prosecuted.
The indictment alleges that from 2012 to March 2021, Shah and Stuart “implemented extensive telemarketing schemes to defraud hundreds of victims” across the country. Federal prosecutors allege shah and Smith did so by selling the victims as “business services.”
Shah and Smith then joined a “concerted effort to traffic” list of potential victims called “leads” in the indictment. They are said to have done this knowing that these people would be scammed by others involved in the telemarketing scheme.
Some participants in the scam sold services “aimed at making the management of the victim’s business more efficient or profitable, including tax preparation and website design services, even though many victims were elderly and did not own computers.”
Shah and Smith received their share of sketch income under an agreement with other participants in the fraud scheme.
“Jennifer Shah, who portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businesswoman on ‘reality’ television, and Stuart Smith, who is portrayed as Shah’s ‘first assistant’, are said to have generated and sold a ‘lead list’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam,” he said. U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan said in a press release. “In reality, the so-called business opportunities that Shah, Smith, and their co-conspirators pushed on the victims were only fraudulent schemes motivated by greed to steal victims’ money.” Now these defendants face time in prison on charges of their crimes.
Shah, 47, and Smith, 43, face one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and could face up to 30 years in prison for “sacrificing more than 10 people over the age of 55.” They each face one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Shah’s work has previously been the subject of curiosity, attributed to some of the crew of assistants who travel with her everywhere. In the first part of the Season 1 reunion, Andy Cohen asked Shah a question from a viewer, “Why do I need four assistants?” He asked her to “clap for your amazing costume and break down what each does for you, other than driving you.”
Shah replied, “I need a lot of help, do you know? they all do different things.
Cohen then asked Shah what he had done for the job.
“My background has been direct response marketing for about 20 years, so we do advertising. We have a platform that helps people get customers, so when you’re shopping online or on the internet, if something pops, we have the algorithm behind why you’re being offered that ad,” Shah replied.
In an interview with Bassle in November, Shah founded and run the JXA Fashion, Shah Beauty and Real Shah Rush company and said marketing was the “core business” she led for almost 20 years. “I’m actually a geek,” Shah said, citing an affinity for algorithms, spreadsheets and “everything else that everyone else finds boring.” “Jen explained that her company was in charge of direct response marketing, and while about 90% of the work is now online, she specialized in infomerci marshals, direct mail and printing,” it added. Elsewhere in the interview, she joked that she was “like the Wizard of Oz, the person behind the curtain that no one is watching, but nobody knows how things are working.”
A rep for Shah said in an email to Vulture: “At this time, we do not have a comment. When Vulture sent an email to Bravo reps asking for comment on Shah’s arrest, they said, “The network does not comment. Bravo announced in February that there would be a second season of RHOSLC.
On the March 19 episode of the Bitch Sesh podcast, Cohen was asked if they were already filming season two. ‘Yes ma’am, we are filming. It’s winter in Salt Lake and we’re kneeling in the snow.
The fur store, located in Park City, Utah, posted a photo of Shah and co-star Lisa Barlow on Instagram on Feb. 28, writing, “Farbally remembered thanks to the real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Our beloved clients, Jen Sher and Lisa Barlow, brought their crew to film an episode for season 2. Until then, we’re on the edge of our seats!
Update, March 31: Shah’s virtual court appearance spiraled into housewife-style chaos on Wednesday due to technical problems with Skype on the business feed – at one point there were so many people on the call she couldn’t get into her own blame. Matters were so bad that Manhattan Federal Court Judge Sidney H. Stein finally rescheduled Shah’s arrest for Friday, April 2.
Before the proceedings began, there were signs that the meeting would be disrupted. About 15 minutes before kickoff, this reporter heard what sounded like a toilet flushing in the background. (Participants accessed the proceedings via Skype video, but the press and public were able to dial in to the conference call without video, so it was anyone’s guess who flushed the toilet.)
Soon, some callers neglected to mute themselves and publicly revealed what Bravo or RHOSLC fandom was all about. I heard someone say, “Do you watch Bravo? ‘It’s the best thing ever.
So, one of the housewives got, like, busted for fraud,” someone said. It was not clear to the vultures how many voices were weighing in on the merits of RHOSLC.
Then a major technical problem arose. Shah’s lawyer could not be heard for quite some time. Shah was able to see and hear Stein, but the judge apparently could not see or hear her. Shah tried to dial in again. By then, there were too many people on the call – 253 – for Shah to be able to dial in on her own accusations.
Frustrated with the proposed workaround, Stein decided to reschedule the meeting for Friday so there was time to set up a conference system that would allow for more attendees.
Update, April 2, 11:29 a.m.: Shah pleaded not guilty to both charges during his indictment in Utah this morning. Smith also pleaded not guilty to the same charges.
Stein agreed that Shah must remain free before trial, but set a $1 million personal recognizance bond backed by $250,000 in cash or property. Shah’s lawyers had not successfully argued that she was not a flight risk and did not have to put up the cash.
Initially, Stein seemed like he might agree, noting that Shah “is a participant in a popular television show” and that “her image is active on social media.
I have to say it’s highly unlikely she’s going to disappear somewhere and not be found,” Stein said.
Prosecutors said Shah and Smith had amassed “more than $5 million in criminal proceeds” in recent years and had access to this cash, increasing the risk of flight. They also said Shah “has not indicated a willingness to disclose her assets” at pretrial services.
Stein also instructed Shah “not to engage in drug use and not to use alcohol excessively. These are typical bail conditions, but given that the real Housewives universe is rooted in boogie dust-ups, it’s unclear how this will play out on the show.