On Friday, April 2, Real Housewife of Salt Lake City Jen Shah appeared virtually before the Southern District of New York and pleaded not guilty to fraud charges. Her alleged conspirator, Stuart Smith, pleaded not guilty as well.
On Tuesday, March 30, Shah was arrested on conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering charges for her alleged involvement in a telemarketing scheme that often targeted the elderly. Since her arrest, Shah’s virtual court appearances have gotten off to a rocky start. Shah initially had been scheduled to appear virtually before the Southern District of New York on Wednesday—but U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein rescheduled Shah’s appearance for Friday due to technical difficulties. During Wednesday’s attempted hearing, according to Variety, Shah hung up and tried to reconnect to the videconference and was unable to return, apparently due to the sheer amount of participants—at that point, reportedly 253. While waiting for Shah and the court to fix the issue, participants reportedly could hear a toilet flushing as well as unmuted Bravo fans commenting on the proceedings.
“Do you watch Bravo?” someone could be heard saying, according to Vulture. “It’s the best thing ever.” Another unidentified participant was heard saying, “So one of the Housewives got, like, busted for fraud,” before cutting out.
Friday’s proceedings went more according to plan, with Judge Stein requiring Shah to post a $1 million personal bond as bail secured by $250,000 in cash or property and two cosigners. Stein also classified Shah as a potential flight risk.
Shah’s lawyers argued that the amount of bail was excessive, noting that Shah rents the house she lives in and does not own any property. This might come as news to some fans of RHOSLC as Shah’s glamorous ski chalet—commonly referred to as “Shah-let”—was often featured on the program. The New York Post revealed that Shah has been renting a different, smaller house than the one often featured on the show in Park City, for approximately $8,000 a month.
U.S. Assistant District Attorney Kiersten Fletcher, meanwhile, argued that Shah and Smith were involved at the “highest level” of the alleged scheme, and claimed that Shah was not being forthcoming about her assets. Federal prosecutors claimed that Shah and Smith created shell companies to receive money from their telemarketing scam. Prosecutors said Shah and Smith have access to a significant amount of “crime proceeds,” including $5 million in the bank account of a company called Mastery Pro Group, according to Deseret News. “Ms. Shah has not demonstrated a willingness to disclose her assets,” Fletcher said.
Shah’s legal woes didn’t stop her from getting her hair done. Images posted by Utah reporter John Franchi outside the Utah courthouse shortly after Shah’s arrest show the housewife sporting box braids. The next day, Shah appeared on the official Instagram page of her hairstylist, Endo, who posted a video of the housewife rocking blue hair on his Instagram Story. “Baby fresh out and had to come get laid and slayed by the silkpress queen of utah,” Endo captioned the video, adding the hashtags “#unarrested, #priorities, and #shahsquad.” As of publishing, the video is still publicly available on his Instagram page.
Per Shah’s local newspaper the Salt Lake Tribune, the charges against Shah and Smith are part of a prosecution known as the Cheedie case, which has 10 additional defendants. Four of the defendants in the case have already reportedly pleaded guilty, while the remaining six are scheduled to go to trial along with Shah and Smith beginning on October 18.
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