A judge sentenced a member of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City to more than six years in prison on Friday for defrauding thousands of people across the United States in a telemarketing scam, many of them vulnerable or elderly.
US District Judge Sidney H. Stein announced Jennifer Shah’s sentence after she sobbed while apologizing for the fraud. Stein presided over her guilty plea in July on one count of conspiracy for engaging in massive fraud spanning nearly a decade.
At the start of Shah’s sentencing hearing, Stein warned a packed Manhattan courthouse that he was not sentencing the person people see on television. Stein said that person is “just a character. He’s acting.”
He said the housewives show “involves role-playing… It’s a heavily scripted operation.”
When Shah, 49, got a chance to speak, she too said that she is not the person she is on the show.
“Reality TV has nothing to do with reality,” he said. I am deeply sorry for what I have done. My actions have hurt innocent people.”
He has promised to pay US$6.5 million in restitution and forfeiture when he is released from prison, apologizing to all those deceived by the fraud.
‘His apology is real,’ defense attorney says
During the hearing, defense attorney Priya Chaudhry said that her client has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent months.
“The remorse can be genuine even if he’s late… His apology is real,” she said.
A prosecutor disputed the change, saying he did not believe she showed any remorse, even for her guilty plea.
Prosecutors said in a preliminary filing that Shah should spend a decade in prison, saying he used the proceeds from his fraud to live a life of luxury that included a nearly 10,000-square-foot mansion with eight fireplaces dubbed the “Shah Ski Chalet” in the tourist paradise of Park City, Utah. The house, they said, is now for sale for $7.4 million.
They said he also rented an apartment in midtown Manhattan, leased a Porsche Panamera, bought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of luxury items and financed various cosmetic procedures while cheating the Internal Revenue Service out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Prosecutors attacked his behavior after his arrest on March 30, 2021, saying Shah lied to law enforcement in a voluntarily recorded interview before launching a public reputation-scrubbing campaign in which he “repeatedly, vehemently and falsely He proclaimed his innocence.”
The government said she also appeared to scoff at the charges against her by stating that “the only thing I’m guilty of is being Shah-mazing” and then profited by marketing “Justice for Jen” products after her arrest as she ordered. . others to lie while trying to hide her conduct from investigators.
The scam lasted almost 10 years, authorities say
The fraud, authorities said, spanned from 2012 to March 2021 when bogus services were promoted that allowed people to earn substantial amounts of money through online businesses.
Meanwhile, defense attorneys downplayed Shah’s role in the fraud in their court filing, saying there were “many, many people” involved in the long-running telemarketing scheme that led so many people to buy worthless services from companies in which Shah was involved.
They wrote that the fraud was “a mistake that not only ruined his own life, but it broke his heart to see the damage his actions caused.”
It was carried out, the lawyers said, “as part of an industry that operates on a fine line between what is legal and what is illegal.”
“Ms. Shah was involved in both the legitimate and fraudulent sides of this industry,” her lawyers said.
The lawyers noted that one person who had already been convicted of the fraud received more than seven years in prison and said Shah was not like his co-defendants who “are essentially career con artists; people who have spent their lives jumping from a scheme to another; professional scammers without honest knowledge. dollar to their names”.
They added: “Prior to committing these acts, Ms. Shah’s entire life, for more than four decades, was marked by honest and hard work, respectable achievements and a hard-earned reputation for true generosity.”
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