The Real Housewives universe is known for creating its fair share of drama, but it's not often that cast members are arrested. Jen Shah, one of the stars of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, was recently arrested, and many of the show's fans want to know what she's been charged with. As it turns out, she may have been part of a pretty massive fraud scheme.
Why did Jen Shah get arrested?
Jen was arrested in connection with a telemarketing scheme that has defrauded hundreds of people, including many who are over the age of 55. Her assistant Stuart Smith was also arrested under similar charges. According to a news release, both have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Prosecutors did not request that either Jen or Stuart remain in custody, and both were released without bond after going before a judge. Both Jen and Stuart are prohibited from engaging in telemarketing while their trial is pending, and neither is allowed to move more than $10,000 out of their personal bank accounts without first getting permission from the prosecutors on the case. Jen and Stuart are also forbidden from leaving the state of Utah.
'Real Housewives' may have been filming during Jen's arrest.
According to reporting in Variety, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City was filming on March 30 ahead of Jen's arrest. The cast was preparing for a trip to Colorado when Jen abruptly left the shoot, explaining that she was having an emergency related to her husband. After she left, federal officers arrived at the scene and apparently interrupted the shoot while looking for her.
Cameras were apparently rolling when federal officers arrived, although it's unclear whether they were able to continue recording or were forced to stop recording once officers arrived. Whatever the case may be, it seems clear that Jen and Stuart's arrest will play a prominent role in the show's upcoming season.
Jen and Stuart could face 30 years in prison.
According to a statement released following their arrest, Jen and Stuart "flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their ‘success,’” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Peter Fitzhugh said. “In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people.”
Jen and Stuart are accused of pulling a wide variety of scams, including fake coaching sessions, as well as phony tax prep and web design services. In the past, Jen has even talked up her involvement in these programs, including one which was supposed to be about growing businesses owned by women amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"We’re helping women pivot and shift their business through the quarantine and COVID,” she explained during a January interview with Page Six. “To helping them still stabilize their business through online sales because their brick and mortar stores are closed…we’ve been working with some ladies, so you’ll see some of that coming out and hearing their stories and seeing how we help their businesses grow.”