Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to limit what Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah’s experts can testify about during her upcoming fraud trial. The latest filing from the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office comes as Shah’s trial nears. It is scheduled to begin on July 18, subject to further delays.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirsten Fletcher, Robert Sobelman and Sheb Swett sent a letter to U.S. Judge Sidney Stein on June 21, 2022, seeking an order limiting the testimony of Przemyslaw Jeziorski, a UC Berkeley marketing professor, as emerges from court documents obtained by Heavy. A final hearing on the Shah motions is scheduled for July 5, 2022, court filings show. Last month, Shah’s lawyers asked Stein to resign if any conflicts in his schedule led to a third delay.
Shah was charged in March 2021 with conspiracy to wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering and was out on bail pending the start of her trial, which was twice delayed. It was initially scheduled to start in October 2021 and then in March 2022. Her arrest was documented in the second season of Bravo’s RHOSLC.
Prosecutors are protesting a professor who is expected to testify on Shah’s behalf
In the letter to the judge, which can be read here, prosecutors said: “The Government respectfully seeks an order excluding the following statement by the defendant’s proposed expert, Przemyslaw Jeziorski: (i) all opinions on chargeback fraud are lacking one reliable basis; and (ii) any opinions as to the facts of this case arising out of a failure to disclose such opinions.”
Prosecutors said Jeziorski was an expert witness in “Marketing Analytics; quantification and qualification of leads; lead generation methods; lead brokerage; data scraping; use of retail space and fulfillment businesses, including commission structures; the use of CRMs; upsell; chargebacks; and overall success rates for small businesses.”
According to prosecutors and Shah’s attorneys, Jeziorski could testify about “chargebacks” where customers claim they didn’t receive what they bought. Jeziorski believes chargeback fraud is on the rise as customers actually get what they ordered and then request a chargeback from their bank.
Prosecutors wrote: “These opinions are allegedly based on Jeziorski’s ‘teaching and research’ and the fact that he ‘has written chargeback integration with payment systems for his company and has experience dealing with chargebacks’. The disclosure did not detail the relevant “teaching and research” or “experience” and did not cite scholarly articles, treatises, or other secondary sources for those opinions.”
In the court filing, prosecutors said: “The defendant appears to intend to evoke sweeping generalizations about consumer and banking habits based on nothing other than Jeziorski’s own personal experience of running a business and more general ‘teaching and research’. … Jeziorski should not be allowed to comment on the alleged problem of ‘chargeback fraud’ based solely on his own limited personal experience.” They added:
Additionally, there’s no reason to believe that Jeziorski’s experience running a business would provide reliable insight into why consumers initiate chargebacks or how banks and credit card companies handle chargeback requests. If anything, Jeziorski’s proposed testimony makes it clear that companies are often hostile to banks and consumers during the chargeback process, further undermining the notion that his opinions on chargebacks are reliable. In this case, the defendant’s disclosures do not specify the nature of Jeziorski’s deal or his role in that deal, making it impossible for the court to assess the reliability of such statements and for the government to prepare for their cross-examination on the basis of his conclusions about chargeback Fraud. Accordingly, Jeziorski should be barred from testifying about “chargeback fraud.”
Shah’s lawyers highlighted Jeziorski’s qualifications as a professor
According to the resume provided by Shah’s attorneys, Jeziorski has been a professor of marketing at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley since 2012 and previously taught at Johns Hopkins University and was a researcher at Stanford University. His research focuses on “Quantitative Marketing, Industry Organisation, Antitrust and Regulation, Digital Marketing, Fintech”.
Her attorney, Priya Chaudry, wrote in a court filing: “When summonsed to appear in court, Professor Jeziorski can testify in relation to marketing analytics, particularly the standard techniques used in data-driven marketing, such as: B. Lead Qualification, Targeting and Lead Mediation. These techniques are at the core of data-driven marketing and are very much encouraged and taught in the field of marketing.” Speaking about the issue at the heart of the controversy, she added:
Professor Jeziorski can also testify in relation to chargebacks, a common feature of credit and debit cards where the transaction is reversed because the payment processor believes the charge was fraudulently or improperly charged. Professor Jeziorski will testify that every business has chargebacks to some degree because chargebacks are impossible to avoid. Explanations for chargebacks include, but are not limited to, a customer losing a credit card and reporting the card as stolen, or a system error where the payment processor accidentally double-charged the customer; In both examples, the merchant is forced to return the money in the form of a chargeback. Professor Jeziorski will also testify about chargeback scams where customers claim they didn’t receive what they bought (even though the customer did).
Shah’s assistant, Stuart Smith, pleaded guilty in November 2021 and is awaiting sentencing, which is likely to come after Shah’s trial is complete. Shah has said on Bravo that she is innocent and will fight to clear her name.
According to federal prosecutors, Shah, of Park City, Utah, is accused of involvement in a telemarketing scam targeting elderly people. Prosecutors said in a press release after their arrest that there were hundreds of victims in the case.
Then-US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, said in a statement: “Jennifer Shah, who portrays herself on ‘reality’ television as a wealthy and successful businesswoman, and Stuart Smith, who portrays herself as Shahs.” First Assistant,” allegedly created and sold “lead lists” of innocent people so other members of their scheme could repeatedly cheat. In reality, and as claimed, the so-called business opportunities foisted on the victims by Shah, Smith and their co-conspirators were just fraudulent schemes motivated by greed to steal the victims’ money. Now these defendants face jail time for their alleged crimes.”
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https://heavy.com/entertainment/real-housewives/jen-shah-trial-expert-witness/ Jen Shah Trial Update: Feds Struggling To Stop Testimony