Jen Shah, 47, gave fans of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City more drama than they bargained for on March 30th. The newbie Bravo star was arrested and charged in a massive fraud and money laundering scheme, a month after she finished filming her first season of the hit show.
Jen pleaded not guilty to the charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Her trial is set to begin on October 18 and, according to federal criminal defense lawyer Brandon Sample, Jen is facing some serious consequences if she’s found guilty.“She faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years on the charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She also faces another 20 years on the money laundering charge, the experienced lawyer, who specializes in federal white collar crime cases told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY.
However, he added, it’s likely Jen’s sentence will be much shorter, if she is found guilty. “The Court has the power to run the sentences consecutive; however, it rarely happens. I expect that if the government is able to determine her guilt, the sentence in the case would be most likely 5 – 10 years, but that is just a guess,” he explained.
But, according to criminal defense attorney Sharen Ghatan there is even a chance that the reality star could avoid time behind bars completely, even if she’s found guilty. “”Her attorneys will likely emphasize her clean criminal record, assuming she has that, and will highlight a lack of “crimes of moral turpitude,” the founding partner of California Legal Counsel told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY.
“It’s especially concerning that there are other defendants,” the attorney continued. “It’s highly likely that someone will rat someone else out. [Jen] Shah should use any inside knowledge to better her situation and bargain down to a lesser offense or best yet, a dismissal, in exchange for information about a ‘bigger fish.'”Aside from jail time, Jen is also facing the loss of her assets and major fines. “The Government will likely seek to freeze and confiscate assets that derive from her alleged criminal activity,” Brandon Sample explained. “If she is found guilty, these assets could be sold by the Government to help make restitution to victims in the case.”
And, if Jen is found guilty, she will be on the hook for up to $1.5 million dollars in fines. “The wire fraud conspiracy charge carries a $1 million fine. The money laundering charge carries a max $500,000 fine,” Brandon Sample added.
Of course, as defense attorney Sharen Ghatan emphasized Jen is still innocent until proven guilty. “The prosecutor needs to prove that she’s guilty. Shah is presumed innocent.”
When news of the arrest first came out, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss spoke out in a statement that said, Jen and her alleged right-hand man and co-defendant Stuart Smith, “allegedly generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam. 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.”