Jen Shah of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for telemarketing fraud.

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NEW YORK (AP) – Jennifer Shah, a tearful cast member of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” who said she wasn’t a character, was sentenced Friday to 6 1/2 years for defrauding thousands of people. many of whom are vulnerable or elderly in a nearly decade-old telemarketing scam.

Shah, 49, was charged by U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein with being the ringleader of a nationwide scam that often targeted people who were not electronically sophisticated and could not afford to lose their money.

Shah pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in July. Prosecutors had asked for a 10-year sentence, which would have been a year below federal minimum sentencing guidelines, but well above the three years advocates had recommended. Shah.

At the start of Friday’s hearing, Stein warned a courtroom packed with Shah’s family, friends and members of the media that people would not condemn someone they saw on television.

Stein said the man was “just a character. It is action. And he added that the “Housewives” program “includes role-playing games.” … This is a scripted operation.

His comments were echoed by Shah, who told the judge: “Reality TV has nothing to do with reality.”

He apologized to the “innocents” he said he had hurt and promised to pay $6.5 million in restitution and forfeiture after his release from prison.

“I struggled for a long time to take responsibility because I deluded myself that I didn’t make a mistake,” Shah said, calling it her “broken self-reality.”

“For years, I blamed others for putting me in this position,” he said, believing that I had been deceived and manipulated.

“I am responsible for my terrible decisions. All this was my fault and my mistake,” said Shah. “I have no one to blame but myself. … I wish I could stand outside myself, see the pain I’ve caused, and change course. I am deeply and deeply sorry.

During the hearing, defense counsel Priya Chaudhry said her client had undergone a dramatic change in recent months.

“Regret can be real even if it’s too late. … His apology is genuine,” he said.

After the verdict, Shah left the court building without talking to reporters. He will report to prison later.

Assistant United States Attorney Robert Sobelman said Shah was the mastermind of a “blatant and egregious fraud” that ran from 2012 to March 2021, with bogus services allowing people to make large sums of money through online businesses. He called him the most guilty among more than 30 accused.

“He always knew what he was doing,” she said, noting that he tried to slow down the investigation into his wrongdoing by lying to investigators and acting evasively to hide his true role in the fraud. .

In a brief, prosecutors said he used the proceeds of the fraud to live a lavish lifestyle, including a nearly 10,000-square-foot home with eight fireplaces called the “Shah Ski Chalet” in a Park City, Utah, resort retreat. They say the house is currently on the market for $7.4 million.

They say he also rented an apartment in midtown Manhattan, leased a Porsche Panamera, bought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of luxury goods and defrauded the Internal Revenue Service out of hundreds of thousands to finance various cosmetic procedures. amounted to dollars.

Authorities say he scoffed at the charges, saying “my only crime is Shah-Mazing,” and then took advantage of it by selling “Justice for Jen” merchandise. after being arrested while trying to hide his behavior from investigators and instructing others to lie.

During the sentencing, Shah said the proceeds from the sale of the covered goods would go to the victims.

The judge, however, said the victims could be healed financially, but they “cannot be healed emotionally.”

“Their lives have been turned upside down,” Stein said.

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