Better known as Jen's first assistant (because apparently ripping people off requires multiple assistants and an entire Shah Squad), Stuart Smith originally pled not guilty to charges related to Jen's telemarketing scheme after he and Jen were arrested. Yesterday he reversed course and pled guilty to three charges: conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice. In a deposition, he admitted to hiding ownership and money, defrauding elderly people, and lying to the Federal Trade Commission (which constitutes perjur)y. He faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and will be sentenced in March 2022.
Jen's trial was originally scheduled to begin in October 2021 but has been delayed until March 2022 (due to a COVID backlog in the courts).
Jen's description of her business:
"I own three different marketing companies and we do lead generation, data monetization, customer acquisition. The best way to describe it is I’m the Wizard of Oz. I’m the one behind the curtain that no one knows exists but I’m the one making everything happen. So ads are popping to you guys and they’re like, ‘How the hell do they know I’m shopping at Neiman Marcus?’ That’s me.
If you think about it, you know how much traffic is on the internet every second, all the people clicking. I’m making money on every click, anytime you click on anything I’m getting some money. I think because I’ve been blessed to be successful with my marketing background and my companies, I’ve really found a niche within the direct response marketing world. I’ve been able to branch out and invest in our fashion company, our skincare line, our lash line.
People will come to me and I’ll invest in their companies, so we have a got a lot of different investments, all different kinds of things. I’ve been able to do it because what I’ve been able to carve out, the niche I’ve been able to carve out in the direct response marketing world.”
2012-2021: Jen and Stuart were allegedly part of a telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of people, many over the age of 55, by selling lead lists for fictitious business opportunities. The government described the scandal as a $5 million money laundering scheme. According to the indictment, Jen and Stuart allegedly sold victims — many who were seniors and did not own a computer — online business services. Prosecutors said Shah and Stuart then sold their clients’ names to other telemarketers who sold the victims more products.
2019: investigation into the telemarketing scheme began.
March 2021: Jen and Stuart were arrested. Jen narrowly avoided being arrested on camera while filming for RHOSLC. While she was gathered in a parking lot with other cast members to go on a road trip together, someone called to alert her that it was about to happen. She asked Heather to turn off her mic pack and she told the cast members who were present in the party bus that her husband was in the hospital with internal bleeding so that she had an excuse to leave. Shortly after, NYPD and Homeland Security showed up and asked for Jen, claiming that they just wanted to make sure she was okay. It wasn't until a few hours later that the cast members learned that Jen had been arrested.
March 30: Jen appeared in court. The judge set the following conditions for Jen and Stuart: they must commit no federal offense upon release, must appear in court as required, no traveling outside of Utah with the exception of New York City court, no international travel, no contact with co-defendants and no engagement in telemarketing.
April 2: Jen pled not guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The wire fraud charges have a maximum sentence of 30 years. She could also be sentenced to an additional 20 years for the money laundering charges. The judge said she was a substantial flight risk and set her bail at $1 million, giving her one week to pay the required $250k bond. Her lawyer asked for two weeks to pay the bond, which the judge approved. Other conditions of her bail included no drug use or excessive alcohol, not being allowed to open any bank accounts and continued mental health treatments. Her lawyer told the court that Jen doesn’t own her home or any other property. When asked about her employment outside of telemarketing, her lawyer told the judge, “She's in the fashion business and on a news show [RHOSLC]." The government alleged that she has not willingly disclosed her assets amid the investigation.
June 14: Jen's attorney filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the indictment against her on the basis of “legal and factual insufficiency” and suppression of evidence. The motion said that NYPD Detective Christopher Bastos called Jen and she thought it was regarding a different NYPD matter (she had previously been granted a permanent order of protection by a judge in Supreme Court, New York County, against a man who had victimized her). While on the phone with her, the detective told her to pull over, at which point she was arrested. Jen’s lawyers alleged that while Bastos read her Miranda rights aloud and gave her a printed copy to sign, she didn’t know what she was looking at when she signed it.“Although she heard the words Det. Bastos read, Ms. Shah’s contact lenses, which were in her eyes, were dry, and she did not have her reading glasses, so her vision was blurry and she was unable to read the paper in front of her,” the motion added. “Even while being read her rights, Ms. Shah did not know what was going on, and still thought it might be a potential misidentification.” In August, a judge rejected her motion to dismiss the indictment.
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