Shah, 47, was arrested and taken into federal custody on Tuesday in Salt Lake City, Utah on the indictment which came down from a Manhattan federal court. Also named in the alleged scheme is Stuart Smith, 43, who has appeared on the popular Bravo reality series alongside Shah as her “first assistant.” Smith of Lehi, Utah, was also arrested.
Shah on Friday pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Attorneys for Shah did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Friday.
Federal prosecutors allege Jen Shah ran a telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims for almost a decade. (Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Smith also pleaded not guilty. During the court hearing, there was an argument over Shah’s bail. The judge agreed to the government’s request of making her bond strict with a $1 million bond secured by cash or property — a request Shah’s lawyers found to be excessive.
Prosecutors also suggested that Shah is hiding assets, and that she and Smith controlled a Shell company holding at least $5 million from the fraud.
“She’s not demonstrated a willingness to disclose her assets,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kiersten Fletcher.
In a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York this week, Shah and Smith are accused of victimizing 10 or more persons over the age of 55 a telemarketing scheme – a penalty for the count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing carries a maximum sentence of 30 years. Shah’s second count of conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
“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 alleged in a statement earlier this week.
“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,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York release reads.
Furthermore, prosecutors said Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their “success,” which they claim is all fake and was for show. “In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people,” added New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh.
The New York Police Department said the number of victims Shah and Smith have allegedly duped stand in the “hundreds” and press that the alleged fraud had been perpetuated for nearly a decade – when it first started in 2012 and ran until as recently as this month.
“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,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
Shah is in the main cast of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” which completed its first season in February.
According to her Bravo bio, Shah “is the queen of her house and her businesses as the CEO of three marketing companies.”
‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ star Jennifer Shah was hit with federal charges stemming from allegations she conspired to commit wire fraud and laundered money connected to a purported telemarketing scam. (Gutman/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
During the “Housewives” reunion, Bravo bigwig Andy Cohen asked Shah about her businesses.
“My background is in direct response marketing for about 20 years, so our company does advertising,” she said at the time. “We have a platform that helps people acquire customers, so when you’re shopping online or on the internet, and something pops, we have the algorithm behind why you’re getting served that ad.”
Shah maintained that her businesses require ample moving pieces to keep churning and added of her multiple assistants: “I need a lot of help, you know? They all do different things,” Shah explained.
“I run a lot of different companies and businesses, and a lot of them have different roles in the companies.”
Fox News’ Marta Dhanis, Jessica Napoli and The Associated Press contributed to this report.