Updated April 5, 2021: Jen Shah and Stuart Smith have both pleaded not guilty to charges of charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Shah has also been ordered by the court to sign a one million dollar bond, secured by $250,000 cash (that must be provided in two weeks) or property — should she fail to produce the bond, the Bravo star will be taken into police custody again.
A Bravo insider revealed that the network will try to include footage of Shah's arrest and legal woes in the upcoming season of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. The cameras never actually stopped rolling amidst all of the chaos, and this kind of action is too good for fans to not see play out on TV.
“Production sees this as a great story line,” the source told Us Weekly. “One that everyone will want to see unfold...it’s ratings gold. They’re going to use as much footage as they can that they’re legally allowed to use.”
This story was originally published on April 1, 2021.
No season of any Real Housewives show is complete without a real life scandal to compete with its on-air drama, and the new Salt Lake City installment is no exception. Filming for its second season has already started off with a bang, thanks to the legal firestorm raging around its resident troublemaker Jen Shah.
On Tuesday, March 30, Shah was arrested during filming for The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, later charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering — charges that could lead to 50 years behind bars. Federal prosecutors allege that for almost a decade, Shah and her first assistant (she has many) Stuart Smith have been running an elaborate telemarketing scam and acquiring millions of dollars in the process.
Shah is known for showing off her wealth on RHSLC, often making expensive purchases and throwing lavish, over the top parties to impress her co-stars. But the Justice Department is now saying that Shah's fortune was accumulated through her and Smith's multi-year scam starting in 2012. The department's recently unsealed indictment claims that Shah's company specifically targeted older communities and people who aren't computer savvy, selling them "essentially non-existent" services (including tax preparation and website design) and then refusing to refund them when the jig was up. This scheme ran for nine years, and Shah also allegedly helped others get in on the money-making ploy as well; the prosecutors claim that she "generated and sold 'lead lists' of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam."
Our first look at Jen Shah #RHOSLC pic.twitter.com/ptgXvv9PZY— 𝙹𝚘𝚑𝚗 𝙵𝚛𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚑𝚒 (@JFRANCHIREPORTS) March 30, 2021
There's also clear evidence that Shah and Smith were fully aware of the illegality of their activities. They reportedly "undertook significant efforts" to keep the scheme low-key, making sure that their legal names weren't used in the incorporation of the business and even sending shares of the illicitly-gained funds to offshore bank accounts. Little by little, they would allegedly withdraw smaller amounts of money from those accounts to avoid calling attention to the transactions.
After her arrest on Tuesday, Shah was taken to stand before US Judge Dustin Pead in Salt Lake City's federal court. Judge Pead released her and Smith from police custody without bond, stating that they had to stay in the state of Utah and weren't allowed to participate in their scam throughout the investigation or access more than $10,000 of their personal funds without permission from the prosecution.
Someone yelled “you look fabulous, Jen!” at Jen Shah as she left the courthouse after her arrest ☠️ #RHOSLC pic.twitter.com/Qh2EiK6CwZ— Gibson Johns (@gibsonoma) March 30, 2021
On Wednesday, April 1, Shah was scheduled to appear in virtual court before Judge Sidney Stein for her arraignment, but things didn't exactly go as planned. The Bravo star and her legal counsel Clayton Simms reportedly struggled with technical issues; they weren't able to access the conference call because the line was overloaded with more than 250 participants. Ultimately, the judge rescheduled the arraignment for Friday, April 2.
Shah's husband, Sharrieff Shah, has not been charged in connection to the scheme, and neither have any of her Real Housewives co-stars. But the diva's real-life drama will definitely spill into the upcoming season of RHSLC, especially since Jen's source of income and exorbitant spending habits played a significant role in her storyline. Only time will tell exactly how this legal drama plays out, but trust and believe that Bravo fans will be watching every moment of it.