Jennifer Shah, a star of "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City," was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison Friday by a federal judge at a courthouse in Manhattan after she pleaded guilty in
The reality TV starin July to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. As part of her plea deal, she agreed to forfeit $6.5 million and pay up to $9.5 million in restitution.
"I accept complete responsibility for my bad conduct," Shah wrote in a statement ahead of her sentencing. "My poor judgement and bad business associations caused innocent people to lose their money and be victimized by investing in poorly structured businesses/products that I influenced or controlled. For that, I am genuinely sorry, and I will work for the rest of my life to make it right."
Shah was accused of defrauding hundreds of victims, many of whom were elderly, by selling them services for online businesses that were nonexistent. The services included coaching sessions and website design, even though many victims did not own a computer, the indictment alleged.
Prosecutors said Shah and her former assistant, Stuart Smith, who also pleaded guilty in the case, generated and sold "lead lists" of victims for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam. The duo concealed their role in the scheme by incorporating business entities under third-party names and telling other participants to do the same, the indictment said.
Shah's lavish lifestyle has been featured on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City," which premiered in 2020. She hosted extravagant parties, showed off designer outfits and employed a group of assistants who traveled with her.
She was arrested during filming of the show's second season. In a dramatic scene, U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents, who were looking for Shah, approached her castmates as they were waiting in a van to go to Vail, Colorado. Shah had received a phone call about her husband's health and had left the van before law enforcement arrived and was arrested off camera.
Shah maintained her innocence through much of season three, which is currently airing on Bravo. A spokesperson for NBCU, which owns Bravo, declined to comment Friday following the sentencing.
Questions about her career came up throughout the seasons, with her co-stars and Real Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen expressing confusion about her line of work.
"I run a lot of different companies and businesses, and a lot of [my assistants] have different roles in the companies," she said during the first season reunion. "My background is in direct response marketing for about 20 years, so our company does advertising. We have a platform that helps people acquire customers, so when you're shopping online or on the internet, and something pops, we have the algorithm behind why you're getting served that ad."
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