There’s nothing like when a Real Housewives star gets caught up in criminal activity, and oh boy, this week, Jen Shah of Salt Lake City really went above and beyond when she was arrested for a string of alleged fraud and money laundering offenses.
The news came completely out of left field, and details of the arrest were all the more shocking because Jen Shah was reportedly filming a cast trip for the show and jumped off a bus to Colorado shortly before federal officials “swarmed” the production looking for her.
Following the arrest, a ten-page indictment was released, in which Shah and her assistant Stuart Smith were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in relation to an alleged “wide-ranging telemarketing scheme.”
Jen Shah made a splash in season one of The Real Housewives Of Salt Lake City, with her opulent ski chalet (which has since turned out to be a rental), and her squad of makeup artists and hangers-on. Per a press release from the US Department of Justice, though:
“Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their ‘success.’ 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.”
Shah was arraigned remotely last week, but so many curious Bravo fans joined the call that it turned into chaos, with the accused herself getting disconnected. She plead not guilty at a subsequent hearing, and has been ordered to sign a $1 million personal recognizance bond.
Fans were waiting for Shah’s official statement on the matter, and she certainly did not disappoint. Over the weekend, the star took to her Instagram stories, where she wrote:
“Thank you for being loyal, believing in me and not believing the hype. This journey has showed me who my true friends are. All my love. #ShahSquad”
She later shared a photo of herself along with the “go call the police / go call the governor” line from Britney‘s ‘Work Bitch‘, so you know this is going to get even messier.
Speaking of messy, Housewives fans unearthed an old Tweet of Shah’s, in which she likened herself to Teresa Giudice, saying “Teresa walked, so I could run”:
Teresa Giudice famously served 11 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to 41 fraud related offenses.
Shah’s lawyers have released a statement saying:
“Jennifer Shah is a wife, mother, and lifelong resident of the Salt Lake City area. She maintains her innocence of these charges and is eager to defend herself in a court of law. She puts her faith in the American legal system.”
She is set to stand trial in October, and at this state, it is unclear whether she will rejoin The Real Housewives Of Salt Lake City, which is currently filming its second season.