The reality star, 48, and her assistant Stuart Smith were arrested and charged in March with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing — through which they allegedly victimized 10 or more persons over the age of 55 — and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The two pleaded not guilty during an arraignment in April, but earlier this month, Smith, 43, changed his plea to guilty and awaits a sentencing hearing on March 3rd. He faces a maximum of 70 years in prison, the presiding judge said during the plea hearing.
In Hulu's new documentary, The Housewife & the Shah Shocker, various legal experts, proclaimed Bravo superfans, family and friends of Shah and telemarketing scam victims speak out about the case.
Here are six bombshells from the piece, which is available to watch now on the streaming service.
Jen's Lifestyle May Not Have Been as It Seemed
Shah's former stylist, fashion designer Koa Johnson, took on a key role in the documentary, claiming that much of the glitz and glamour Shah displays on RHOSLC isn't real.
"She was definitely very secretive on a lot of things," he said. "The items that you see, like the fur coats, they're not owned by her. And any of the large jewelry that you see on her, those are leased and borrowed as well."
He continued, "Did Jen Shah drive around in a Porsche? Yes. Is she driving a Porsche now? No. Why? Well, it wasn't her Porsche, that's not her car."
Later, attorney Ronald Richards noted that Shah didn't have any assets when it came time to put up money for bail, so she had to use $250,000 in cash rather than her house or car. (Yes, this means the famed "Shah Chalet" was a rental).
Her Former Employee Claimed She Was a Bully
Johnson went on to address some video and audio clips of Shah that have surfaced showing her verbally berating her employees. At one point in his interview, Johnson compared her TV personality to that which she displays in real life.
"Every scene she's like screaming, and in real life, there are moments where she's always screaming. She's actually worse off-screen," he said.
"She did say in a couple of her interviews that she's the Wizard of Oz, the woman behind the curtain. I don't think she's the wizard, I think she's the Wicked Witch of the West," he added.
In one video that circulated on social media, Shah was being secretly recorded as she yelled at a group of her staff for several minutes. Johnson said it was filmed ahead of the season 1 RHOSLC reunion. "She was getting upset in that video because she came to a realization that she was not prepared. She threw a chilli bowl at me," he said.
In another audio clip, Shah can be heard telling Johnson, "We're going to put on boxing gloves and I'm going to beat the s--- out of you in like two seconds."
"I think that crossed a line, a boundary from me," he said in the documentary. "I decided to just get a one-way ticket to Hawaii and I left."
...But Others Saw a Different Side of Her
Shah's aunt Lehua Vincent and her old classmate Beth Hahne are also featured in The Housewife & the Shah Shocker, and they had a different take on Shah.
"The real Jen Shah, the person that I know, she has dealt with adversity every single day of her life and through it all, achieved," Vincent said.
Both Hahne and Vincent also recalled Shah facing racism and discrimination as a Tongan and Polynesian growing up in Salt Lake City.
"There were maybe four or five other people of color that were in the high school. The Mormons were a big thing in this tight-knit community. It wasn't an easy place to be," Hahne said.
Chad Kirkland/Bravo/ Getty Jen Shah
Vincent later shared, "I remember her one afternoon coming home from school, I noticed that her skin had a bright, bright, bright red tint to it. And she said, 'I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and it won't come off.' And I said 'What are you talking about, what won't come off?' She said 'The kids at school are calling me dirty and I'm trying to scrub it off. It won't come off.' "
"They saw her as different enough to ridicule her, make her feel different and feel less than. Fortunately, through all of the adversity, we're here to support her," she concluded.
Jen's Arrest Wasn't Planned to Be on TV
When Shah was arrested by Homeland Security back in March, the whole ordeal was captured by the Bravo cameras and appeared on an episode of RHOSLC earlier this month.
However, Rick Patel, the acting special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in New York, said it wasn't planned that way.
"We don't look for specific timing to do arrests. In the case of Jen Shah, she had a television crew that was following her on a regular basis so it was not planned in any way," he said. "Our investigators, our special agents needed to do our jobs. I'm happy to say they did it without incident and it was that she was taken into custody."
Patel later called telemarketing schemes, like the one Shah is accused of being a part of, "disturbing."
"We constantly look at the lavish lifestyle that these fraudsters are living and it hurts, it really does hurt, because when you talk to a victim and you see how everything they've worked for completely vanished, it's disturbing," he said. "And it's obviously why we do this job and we want to make sure it stops."
Some Victims of the Telemarketing Scam Lost Thousands
Two alleged victims of telemarketing schemes who claim they were scammed by the companies named in the case against Shah and her various co-defendants speak out in the documentary about what they went through.
Penny Pucket, who said she bought nonexistent services from a company owned by one of the co-defendants, shared that she first purchased a program for around $97 to help her market her baby blankets on social media, while her husband's farm was struggling.
Soon, as her information was sold to other companies and she was convinced to buy more and more services that were meant to help her business, that $97 turned to $29,000.
"These people, you've got to understand, are really smooth. They know how to manipulate you," Pucket said, later adding, "When I realized that I'd been had, I was devastated. I was so ashamed because I thought I was a smarter person than that."
"The folks that are behind this are pros at what they do," HSI agent Patel said. "It is disgusting. And what we'd like to tell any victim is: it's not your fault. So please come forward because we need your help to make sure this doesn't happen to more people."
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The second alleged victim, preschool teacher Marie Walker, bought an online service to help her build up a new home-based business during the pandemic. The company she bought from was MasteryPro, a shell company allegedly connected to Shah.
Similar to Pucket, though, Walker said she soon found herself out of $18,000.
She claims that when she realized it was a scam, she reported it to police, the Federal Trade Commission and her credit card companies, but has only been able to get about $8,000 back.
"If I could talk to the people that scammed me, I would say, 'Would you do this to your mother? To your sister? And why? Why would you do this? And why would you keep doing it?' " Walker said.
Neither Pucket nor Walker are part of the government's case against Shah, the documentary notes.
Stuart's Guilty Plea Could Complicate Her Defense
While Shah has continued to maintain her innocence, Smith's recent guilty plea could make things more difficult for her, some of the legal experts in the documentary said.
"The Southern District of New York is very good at what they do. They have a very high percentage win rate at trial," Federal criminal defense attorney Jacob Mitchell said.
"Not knowing that something is illegal is not a defense," he continued. "You have to actually lack knowledge of what's going on as a result of the risks that are involved. It's a very strong incentive for people to take a plea or to cooperate."
Since Smith did take a plea, he may prove to be "devastating" for Shah's defense, Richards said.
"She's going to have a hard time attacking his credibility because they wore best of buddies until the arrest," he said. "Stuart knows where the bodies are buried. And I think that if he testifies that's going to be a devastating witness for her."
"These are serious charges because when you have a lot of victims and a lot of money, the sentencing guidelines go up. Unfortunately for Ms. Shah, if convicted, it's going to be a high sentence. I mean she's not looking at one year — she's looking at a decade," Richards added.
The Housewife & the Shah Shocker is available to stream now on Hulu.