Just a few months after bursting onto the scene as one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” Jen Shah has found herself in legal trouble.
The reality star was arrested Tuesday on federal fraud charges stemming from allegations she conspired to commit wire fraud and laundered money in connection to a purported telemarketing scam, federal prosecutors said.
Also named in the alleged scheme is Stuart Smith, 43, who has appeared on the popular Bravo reality series alongside Shah as her “first assistant.” Smith of Lehi, Utah, was also arrested.
Who is Jen Shah?
Shah is a businesswoman and one of several cast members of Bravo’s latest “Real Housewives” show based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Months before her arrest, during a SiriusXM interview, she said she had three marketing companies: a fashion company, a beauty company and a “lashes” company.
Who is Stuart Smith?
Smith is one of several assistants to Shah.
In the same interview, Shah revealed that she had eight assistants to help her run her various businesses.
The reality star mentioned Smith by name, explaining that he was willing to do anything she asked.
“Stuart [Smith] would literally do anything, anything. Some assistants I won’t ask to do certain things, you know?” she said. “One of them is just, she’s just strictly virtual. So, of course, I’m not asking her to do [certain things] … But, like, Stuart is all in for, like, crazy stuff.”
What is she accused of doing?
A statement from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss alleges that Shah and Smith “generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam.”
In the statement, Strauss claimed that the star, Smith and their “co-conspirators” are guilty of pushing business opportunities onto victims, including “fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims’ money.”
Furthermore, prosecutors said Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their “success,” which they claim is all fake and for show. “In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people,” said special agent-in-charge Peter C. Fitzhugh, from New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
“These individuals allegedly targeted and defrauded hundreds of victims but thanks to the hard work of the NYPD and our law enforcement partners, this illegal scheme was brought to an end,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in the statement.
What are the charges?
Shah and Smith are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing. They are accused of victimizing 10 or more persons over the age of 55 – a penalty that carries a maximum sentence of 30 years – and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
When did this happen?
The alleged crimes began in 2012, according to a press release. The same release said that she, Smith and “others” were engaged in criminal activity until March 2021.
When will she appear in court?
Shah appeared before a judge after her arrest on Tuesday, when several conditions of her and Smith’s release were set. On Friday, she pleaded not guilty in Manhattan’s Southern District of New York during a virtual appearance.
Included in the reported conditions were limitations on travel, no contact with co-defendants, no telemarketing and more.
Will she be on “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” Season 2?
It’s currently unclear where Shah stands with “RHOSLC” Season 2.
Us Weekly reported on Wednesday that Shah was arrested while cameras were rolling on Season 2.
“Jen was filming with a few of the other women present when she was arrested,” said a source. “The women were completely shocked when Jen was taken away.”
Another source told the outlet that Shah’s future participation “remains unclear,” but the other ladies “resumed filming after Jen’s arrest.”
Requests for comment to Bravo, Shah and Smith have gone unanswered.
Fox News’ Julius Young contributed to this report.