Jennifer Shah, a cast member of the reality series “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” asked a judge to give her a lesser sentence of three years in prison for stealing from hundreds of victims – many of them elderly – in a long-running telemarketing scheme.
Shah, who is scheduled to be sentenced next month, pleaded guilty in July to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
“The terrible business decisions I made and professional relationships I developed stemmed from some personal painful experiences that I was going through in my life,” Shah wrote to the judge in a four-page letter titled, “How I got involved in the situation?”
Under Shah’s plea deal, the sentencing range is between 11 and 14 years in prison under advisory guidelines. The Probation Department has recommended a six-year prison term, and prosecutors will submit their own recommended sentence to the judge next week.
In court documents on Shah’s behalf during the sentencing process, her attorneys claim she wasn’t a “kingpin” of the telemarketing scheme and that her sentence should be lower than some of the other co-conspirators. Shah never had direct contact with the victims, her lawyers say, although prosecutors alleged that she came up with leads to target for the scheme.
Prosecutors have said that since 2012, Shah and others sold so-called “business services” to the alleged victims, including website design services to some elderly individuals who didn’t own computers.
Shah was arrested last year while Bravo was filming the second season of the reality TV series, with episodes of the show featuring Shah and her castmates speculating – and sparring – over her culpability.
Shah’s attorneys asked the judge to ignore her portrayal on the show, where her tagline for promos is, “the only thing I’m guilty of is being Shah-mazing.”
“Just as Jen Shah has never been a ‘housewife,’ little else is real about her persona and caricature as portrayed by the editors of RHOSLC,” her attorneys say.
Shah submitted 30 letters of support from family and friends – none came from her current cast members who she had volatile relationships with over the two seasons. She asked to serve her sentence at the federal prison in Bryan, Texas.
Shah has agreed to forfeit $6.5 million and pay up to $9.5 million in restitution to the victims.