RHOSLC: Why is Jen Shah on trial?

JEN Shah a Housewives of Salt Lake City star is facing trial after an alleged telemarketing scheme, scamming hundreds of people.

Shah garnered a following after starring on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.

Jen Shah was arrested in March 2021

Jen Shah was arrested in March 2021Credit: Bravo Media

Why is Jen Shah on trial?

Jen Shah’s legal problems date back to March 2021 when she was arrested on charges of fraud and money laundering.

She has since been accused of running a telemarketing scam that targeted hundreds of elderly people nationwide alongside multiple accomplices.

In April 2021, Shah pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering charges.

Despite her initial plea, her former assistant and alleged accomplice, Stuart Smith, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of obstructing an official proceeding.

Following the arrest, the star was slammed by fans for “lying” and saying her husband was “hospitalized with internal bleeding” as others also labeled her as a “pathological liar” and “not even a good or smart liar.”

Shah’s trial began in June 2022, and she changed her plea to guilty the following month.

Shah’s attorney, Priya Chaudhry, told PEOPLE: “Jen pled guilty because she wants to pay her debt to society and put this ordeal behind her and her family.”

If convicted, Shah faces up to 30 years in prison. She is expected to be sentenced on November 28, 2022, and has agreed not to appeal if she is sentenced to 14 months or less.

Chaudhry told the outlet: “Ms Shah is a good woman who crossed a line. She accepts full responsibility for her actions and deeply apologizes to all who have been harmed.”

Why did Jen Shah initially turn down a plea deal?

During season three of RHOSLC, Shah discussed her legal issues, revealing why she turned down a plea deal.

Shah placed the blame on Smith for committing telemarketing fraud, saying she is “innocent.”

“I got played by Stuart Smith,” Shah claimed. “I would not be in this thing at all if it wasn’t for Stuart.”

Shah said in a statement to PageSix: “I’m fighting this. I am innocent, and I will fight for every person out there that can’t fight for themselves because they don’t have the resources or the means, so they don’t fight.”

She continued: “I will fight because No. 1, I’m innocent and No. 2, I’m going to f***ing represent every other person out there that can’t fight and hasn’t been able to.”

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Emily D. Baker told PEOPLE she may have to pay a $9million restitution fee, which would fall to Shah’s husband, Sharrieff Shah.

Baker said Shah’s husband could be off the hook to pay the restitution fee because the government could pursue “marital property.”

Even if Shah and her husband divorced, Baker said he would still be required to pay the fees “because this is now accumulated during the marriage.”

During The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Season 2 reunion, Jen revealed she turned down a plea deal

During The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Season 2 reunion, Jen revealed she turned down a plea dealCredit: Bravo Media

Why did her RHOSLC co-star say she shouldn’t stay on the show?

RHOSLC co-star, Meredith Marks called Shah’s decision to stay on the show “gutsy” because one wrong comment could implicate her.

“It’s just very risky [to stay on the show] because whether you are guilty or not, it is so easy to say something that could be spun to incriminate you,” Marks said on the #NoFilter with Zack Peter podcast.

She continued: “And I just think it’s kind of scary. I mean, I think it’s really gutsy that she stayed on. I do. I don’t think I could under those circumstances.”

Marks distanced herself from Shah amidst the accusations, but said that wasn’t the reason she told Shah they couldn’t be friends.

“It wasn’t because I did or didn’t want to support her,” Marks said on the podcast.

“I couldn’t even process what was happening to her because I could barely handle what I was dealing with in my own world at that moment,” she added.

A source told PEOPLE in July that the RHOSLC producers wanted to continue to follow Shah’s story by keeping her on the show.

This case is “a very big part of Jen’s story,” the source said.

“Producers don’t want us to stop following it now. They’ll keep filming with her as long as they can.”