Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to sentence The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah to 10 years in prison. Her sentencing memorandum in the fraud case was filed Friday, December 23, 2022, court documents obtained by Heavy Show.
US District Judge Sidney Stein will sentence Shah on January 6, 2023 in federal court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. The verdict was postponed several times.
The sentencing memo provided by the prosecutors can be read here, while Shah’s sentencing memo can be read in full here.
“For nearly a decade, the defendant was an integral leader of a large-scale, nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme that victimized thousands of innocent people. Many of these people were elderly or at risk. Many of these people suffered significant financial hardship and damage,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing note. “On the orders of the defendant, the victims were duped over and over again until they had nothing. She and her co-conspirators persisted in their behavior until the victims’ bank accounts were empty, their credit cards were maxed out, and there was nothing left to take.”
Shah’s lawyers filed their sentencing letter a week earlier, asking for three years in prison, according to court documents obtained by Heavy. Shah pleaded guilty to fraud in July, just before her trial began. The plea agreement called for up to 14 years in prison, with the Bravo TV reality star agreeing not to appeal a sentence under that amount and prosecutors agreeing not to appeal a sentence over 11 years.
The charge carries a possible prison sentence of up to 30 years. Stein will determine how much time Shah will spend behind bars based on federal sentencing guidelines, a recommendation from the federal parole board, and recommendations from prosecutors and Shah’s attorneys. The parole department proposed a six-year sentence, according to court documents. Shah will also forfeit $6.5 million and pay $9.5 million in restitution, according to the plea deal.
According to court documents, Shah, 49, of Park City, Utah, admitted her role in running the statewide telemarketing fraud scheme that prosecutors said was targeting “elderly, vulnerable victims.” The program ran from 2012 to 2021 when she and others, including her assistant Stuart Smith, were arrested. Shah has been out on bail since her arrest on March 30, 2021. Smith has also pleaded guilty but was not convicted.
Prosecutors said Jen Shah “took a series of increasingly extravagant steps to conceal her criminal behavior from authorities” and then “attempted to take advantage” of being caught
Prosecutors said in the government sentencing note that Shah was “not deterred” by the Federal Trade Commission’s investigations and enforcement actions into her deal and the fact that dozens of co-conspirators were arrested, pleaded guilty and convicted in court.
The court filing said Shah “was not unfamiliar with these developments: she took a series of increasingly extravagant steps to conceal her criminal behavior from the authorities. She directed others to lie, she set up business and bank accounts in others’ names, she demanded cash payment, she directed others to erase text messages and electronic documents, she moved some of her operations overseas, and she attempted to take computers and other evidence outside the reach of investigators. These efforts were not short-lived or limited in scope. She has made extensive efforts to hide her continued role in the scheme for years.”
Prosecutors wrote: “Despite the defendants’ best efforts, she was caught. She then went on a public offensive, trying to cash in on the charges by selling Justice for Jen merchandise. She pleaded guilty at the eleventh hour, only after receiving the government’s trial evidence and testimony. Given her behavior and post-arrest behavior, her belated expressions of remorse ring hollow.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kiersten Fletcher, Robert Sobelman and Sheb Swett wrote in the memo: “The defendant’s conduct was reprehensible. She was a key leader of a multimillion-dollar nationwide program that victimized the elderly and vulnerable, often driving them to financial ruin and emotional distress. … The sentence imposed should adequately reflect the difficulty of deterring someone as persistent and cunning as the accused. The verdict should also take into account the importance of protecting the public from possible future crimes they may commit, given that the defendant is hardly anyone who has shown that she has suddenly turned a page after nearly a decade of crime .”
In a statement following Shah’s guilty plea, Damien Williams, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said: “Jennifer Shah was a key figure in a statewide program that targeted elderly, vulnerable victims. These victims were sold false promises of financial security, but instead Shah and her co-conspirators cheated them of their life savings, leaving them with nothing to show for it. This office is committed to eradicating these systems in whatever form.”
Shah pleaded for leniency, saying in a letter to the judge: “I’m really sorry and I will work for the rest of my life to make it right.”
The sentencing memo presented to the judge by Shah’s lawyers asks for clemency. Attorney Priya Chaudhry wrote of her request for three years in prison: “We maintain that such a sentence is just and fair because it takes into account Ms Shah’s history and characteristics, the facts and circumstances of the offense and is consistent with a court’s requirements for a sentence that is ‘no greater than necessary’ to achieve the goals of punishment.”
Her attorney said the case caused “embarrassment, shame and fear” for her family and cost her dearly. Chaudhry wrote: “She knows the emotional and psychological toll her sons have already had to pay. These are damages she will pay for the rest of her life.”
Shah wrote the judge a letter saying she accepted “complete responsibility” and blamed “painful personal experiences,” including the deaths of her father and grandmother. She wrote: “My poor judgment and business dealings resulted in innocent people losing their money and becoming victims by investing in poorly structured companies/products that I influenced or controlled. I am truly sorry and will work the rest of my life to make it up to you.”
Shah’s husband, Sharrieff Shah Sr., wrote in a letter to the judge that his wife had shown “great remorse” for her actions, adding: “Jen was never arrested or imprisoned for any crime. My wife’s current legal situation was caused by a confluence of events that came together at various points and caused her to spiral out of control.”
Her husband, a soccer coach, also blamed her relationship troubles, saying these caused her to “make disastrously bad business decisions and form relationships with terrible people.” He said his constant travel was a problem. “Because of my absence, I couldn’t see how much my wife was suffering. Now that I think about it, I saw her spending more time alone in our bedroom. She would often fall asleep in our crib waiting for me to come home,” he wrote. “She kept telling me she felt so alone.”
Shah’s attorneys called her “RHOSLC” persona a “caricature,” writing in the sentencing memo: “Just as Jen Shah was never a ‘housewife,’ little else is known about her persona and caricature as portrayed by the editors of RHOSLC really. They said the show was “heavily edited” and “half-written,” and despite appearing on the show as “unyielding, defiant, and often even unrepentant” about her crimes, “The likeness of Jen Shah portrayed in the RHOSLC has has no bearing on who she is and should not enter into the calculus of this court to formulate an appropriate judgment for the real Jen Shah.
Prosecutors replied: “The sentence sought by the defendant (36 months imprisonment) is woefully inadequate to achieve the purpose of the conviction. In particular, such a verdict would result in unjustified differences in verdicts between numerous previously convicted co-conspirators of the defendant.”
They added: “Of course, it can be difficult for the defendant’s family during the defendant’s detention, as it is for family members of anyone who is incarcerated. But the defendant has engaged in outrageous criminal behavior for nearly a decade and knew every day that she was jeopardizing her freedom and that if caught, it would hurt those closest to her. The harm that the defendant has caused her own family through her decisions and her actions should not stand her in sentencing, especially when weighed against the horrific consequences for the victims of her behavior. “
https://heavy.com/entertainment/real-housewives/jen-shah-prosecutors-sentencing-memorandum-memo/ Jen Shah Update: Prosecutors file sentencing memorandum