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Legal Expert Says Jen Shah Could Be Sentenced To 135 Months In Prison!

Many legal experts are sharing their thoughts on what could happen with Jen Shah after the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star's guilty plea amid her ongoing fraud case. Find out below!

“I think she’s probably going to get the low end of the [prison sentence] range. 135 months or a lesser sentence,” Neama Rahmani, former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Us Weekly. “These are very high guidelines. I wouldn’t be surprised if a judge deviated downwards.”

Shah’s sentencing will have a different conclusion because she entered a guilty plea, according to Rahmani.

“Jen was potentially looking at an additional 100 months in prison, if she took the case to trial and lost. It’s a lot of time, but it would’ve been much worse if she went to trial and was convicted,” Rahmani explained. “It really depends on the judge. They have complete and total discretion when it comes to sentencing and she’s waived her right to appeal.”

The legal expert believes Shah's decision to change her plea “wasn't surprising" due to the strong case against her. “When [the Southern District of New York] indict a fraud case, that tends to be an ironclad bulletproof case,” he said. “I'm sure she saw the writing on the wall because it was going to end very badly.”

“There's plenty of evidence [against Jen]. There's phone calls. There's a digital trail. In terms of the money she was using, she paid for rent. I mean, it's all there. So it was a very strong case on the merits. It's not something that she would've been able to defend,” Rahmani claimed, noting that the Bravo reality star's guilty plea showed an “acceptance of responsibility.”

“The fact that she pled guilty, even though it was a week before the trial, the judge is going to consider that. [She] accepted responsibility [and will] pay restitution criminal restitution. It doesn't change what [she] did, but it is a mitigating factor and a reason that she can receive a lesser sentence,” he told Us Weekly

A second charge was dropped against Jen after she pleaded guilty, Rahmani pointed out that Shah was already pleading to “the more serious charges” of fraud. “It really doesn't have any effect. Very few judges would run the sentences consecutively. They would run the time concurrently, which means at the same time,” he said. “They wouldn't pile them. They [would go] back-to-back.”

“If you are a coconspirator, so if you participate in a scheme to defraud, you are on the hook for the full amount of the fraud,” Rahmani explained while weighing in on Smith's sentencing. “Even if you don't pocket the money. Even though [Stuart] is a participant in the fraud, he plays a more minor role because he wasn't receiving these fraudulent proceeds. I would expect a judge to give him a lesser sentence because of his role in the scene.”

Ahead of her sentencing, Shah will presumably have the same conditions to follow as before she changed her plea. “I'm sure her travel is limited and [she has got to continue] the conditions of pretrial release,” Rahmani mentioned. “Now, once she gets sentenced, then she goes from the custody of pretrial services to the bureau of prisons.”

Shah's sentencing will change the “very specific guidelines” that will be enforced due to her status as a convicted felon. “Once she pleads guilty, that's all gone. She's a felon,” the attorney said. “She can't vote, she can't have a gun and all those types of things happen for a felony conviction.”

Shah will not go to trial after she pleaded guilty. “You change your plea from not guilty to guilty [and] that's going to vacate the trial date, which means it's going to be taken off [the] calendar and instead there's going to be a sentencing [any] day now,” Rahmani explained.

As for Jen's future on RHOSLC, the legal expert said, “She's going to be in federal prison for years and you got to serve 85 percent by statute. She's going to miss many, many, many seasons of the Housewives,” Rahmani told Us Weekly.   

As previously reported, Shah pleaded guilty in her controversial telemarketing scheme scandal, according to court documents obtained by Page Six. The Bravo reality star appeared in front of U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein at 10:30 a.m. ET in Manhattan federal court for a surprise hearing, during which she changed her previous not guilty plea to guilty.

According to documents obtained by E! News, Shah plead guilty in federal court on July 11, just a week before she was set to go on trial for her ties to an alleged telemarketing scheme targeting the elderly. Prior to the last-minute hearing, Shah had maintained her innocence after being arrested in March 2021, initially pleading not guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Shah has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing. She faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and up to $9.5 million in fines and restitution, in addition to a $6 million forfeiture, but Page Six reported that her plea agreement called for only 11 to 14 years behind bars.

NBC News reported that during the July 11 proceedings, Shah stated that she had “agreed with others to commit with wire fraud” and “knew it misled” many victims, some of whom she said were over the age of 55. “[I] knew it was wrong,” Shah told the court. “Many people were harmed and I'm so sorry.” 

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York—where Shah was charged—issued a statement shortly after her plea change. “Jennifer Shah was a key participant in a nationwide scheme that targeted elderly, vulnerable victims," he said, per a press release. “These victims were sold false promises of financial security but instead Shah and her co-conspirators defrauded them out of their savings and left them with nothing to show for it. This Office is committed to rooting out these schemes whatever form they take."

An attorney for Shah told E! News in a statement following the plea change, “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. Ms. Shah is also sorry for disappointing her husband, children, family, friends, and supporters. Jen pled guilty because she wants to pay her debt to society and put this ordeal behind her and her family.”

Shah is set to be sentenced on November 28.

The news comes after Jen Shah and her assistant, Stuart Smith, were arrested for their alleged roles in a telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims throughout the United States on Tuesday, March 30. 

Shah and Smith were booked in Salt Lake City on conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering charges. They each face a maximum sentence of 30 years for the wire fraud charges and an additional 20 years for the money laundering charges.

“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 press release on Tuesday, reports the outlet. “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.”

“Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their ‘success,’” HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh added. “In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people. As alleged, disturbingly, Shah and Smith objectified their very real human victims as ‘leads’ to be bought and sold, offering their personal information for sale to other members of their fraud ring. Working with our partners at the NYPD and the United States Attorney’s Office, SDNY, and with the assistance of HSI Salt Lake City, HSI New York worked to ensure that Shah and Smith will answer for their alleged crimes. As a result, their new reality may very well turn out differently than they expected.”

According to Us Weekly, New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea went on to thank the “hard work” of the NYPD for the case.

“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,” Shea said on Tuesday. “I congratulate the NYPD detectives, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for their hard work in bringing these persons to justice.”

Photo Credit: Bravo Media/NBCUniversal