If the cameras are rolling on the Real Housewives of any city, then drama is likely to follow. But fans of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Salt Lake City were in for a particularly surprising moment on Tuesday, when cast member Jen Shah was arrested on camera (via Variety). Shah has been charged by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering. She’s been indicted and arrested, as has her assistant, Stuart Smith, who has also appeared on Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. According to the charges, Shah’s alleged telemarketing scheme targeted elderly people.
“Jennifer Shah, who portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on ‘reality’ television, and Stuart Smith, who is portrayed as Shah’s ‘first assistant,’ allegedly generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement from the Department of Justice. “In actual reality and as alleged, the so-called business opportunities pushed on the victims by Shah, Smith, and their co-conspirators were just fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims’ money. Now, these defendants face time in prison for their alleged crimes.”
Fraud attorney David Fleck explains it all
Fraud attorney David Fleck, whose 20 years of experience includes 10 years as a deputy DA in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office’s fraud division and 10 years of private practice in his Law Office of David L. Fleck, spoke exclusively to The List about what Shah’s case means and what might come next for the reality star.
“The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office loves high-profile cases like this one against Shah and Stuart, and there is a good reason for this,” Fleck explained. “The vast, overwhelming number of fraudsters will never get caught and prosecuted because there are too many of them. Fraud cases are uniquely labor-intensive to investigate, so fraud investigators will always be vastly outnumbered. Cases involving celebrities, like this one and like the college admissions case, serve as a warning to people who might be considering a fraudulent course of action, and hopefully they are deterred from taking such action.”
Although Fleck explained that the DOJ’s press release is “weak on facts” for how they might convict Shah and Stuart, he said that “the government rarely seeks an indictment in cases it doesn’t think it can win.” As Fleck told us, often the government will also indict “less important defendants,” who will then testify against the high-profile defendants in hopes of getting a lesser sentence. So it seems plausible more arrests will be made in this case, if they have not been already.
No matter what, odds are good fans will be able to see it all play out on Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.
By Lana Schwartz