'Real Housewives' star Jen Shah reports to prison
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City's Jen Shah reported to federal prison on Friday to begin her six and a half year sentence. The 49-year-old Bravo star pleaded guilty to running a fraudulent telemarketing scheme.
Entertainment Tonight and TMZ were first to report that she surrendered on Friday afternoon. Shah is serving her time at FPC Bryan in Bryan, Texas, which is the facility her legal team requested.
Just before surrendering, Shah broke her silence in a 30-minute interview with Justin Paperny, the co-founder of White Collar Service. She said she was feeling "so many emotions" as she prepared to enter prison. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous and scared," especially to be away from her family. "But at the same time ... I also feel hopeful and motivated to do a good job and make the most of my time away." Also "relief" to start to put this behind her.
She revealed she'd be taking two things to prison: her Quran and an 18-page release plan, which she said "is going to help me stay on track" and "hold me accountable." She also said she'd be journaling while incarcerated.
Just ahead of her surrender, her attorney Priya Chaudhry said in a statement obtained by Yahoo Entertainment on Friday, "Jen Shah's resolve to make her victims whole and to turn her life around is unyielding. She is committed to serving her sentence with courage and purpose, fueled by her desire to make amends for the hurt she has caused and to help others in her new community."
It continued, "No obstacle will deter Jen from making the most of her time in prison and she's determined to make restitution to those whose lives she has impacted. Her path ahead will be filled with challenges, but with the unwavering love and support of her family and friends, Jen is prepared to face these challenges head-on and emerge from this experience a better person who makes a positive impact on others."
Of note, FPC Bryan is the same facility where Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes will report in April. It's a 37-acre minimum-security women's prison camp about 100 miles north of Houston. One legal expert told Bloomberg the cushy facility is like "heaven" compared to other prisons. Fitness and leisure programs are offered to promote positive lifestyle changes for inmates. Leisure activities include games, sports, hobby crafts, music programs, social and cultural organizations and movie nights, according to the handbook.
According to her interview with Paperny, Shah's expecting to get a 15 percent sentence reduction once she begins her sentence. NBC News explained that federal inmates can earn up to 54 days of good time credit a year, so Shah's sentence could end up being 5 1/2 years of actual time served.
Days before reporting to prison, Shah showed off a new tattoo honoring her family. The reality star inked "Sharrieff Omar Sharrieff" on her arm, which represents her husband, Sharrieff Shah, and their sons, Sharrieff Jr., 28, and Omar, 19.
Shah and her associates defrauded "thousands" of elderly and vulnerable individuals, according to federal prosecutors, as they ran their nationwide scam. The government called her "the most culpable person" in the case as she had direct knowledge about what was going on.
"At the defendant's direction, victims were defrauded over and over again until they had nothing left. She and her co-conspirators persisted in their conduct until the victims' bank accounts were empty, their credit cards were at their limits, and there was nothing more to take," prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum seeking a 10-year prison sentence. Shah — who was hoping for three years behind bars — was sentenced to 78 months.
After, her attorney Chaudhry told Yahoo she "deeply regrets the mistakes that she has made and is profoundly sorry to the people she has hurt. Jen has faith in our justice system, understands that anyone who breaks the law will be punished, and accepts this sentence as just."
Shah, a self-proclaimed direct marketing "wizard," has starred on RHOSLC since the show premiered in 2020. Her legal woes have been a major storyline the last two years as she vehemently proclaimed her innocence. Fans were stunned in July when she changed her plea.
The reality star, always dressed head to toe in couture, was known for emotional and volatile outbursts on the Bravo program. She didn't appear to show any sympathy for the victims, many of whom lost their life-savings, and even profited off the ordeal selling "Justice for Jen" merchandise.
Prior to her interview with Paperny, Shah scrapped scheduled plans to publicly address her guilty plea, including skipped out on attending the Season 3 reunion in December. Last month, she canceled a one-on-one interview with Andy Cohen.
"Too many people have been hurt by my actions and my inability to control my own narrative," she wrote on social media after backing out of the interview. "I would rather remain silent and wait until I am able to accurately share my story than continue having complete lies and misrepresentations about me smeared across the headlines. I intend to speak and you will hear from me. I will share my story and this painful part of my life very soon."
After prison, Shah will be required to participate in a mental health treatment program as part of her probation. She will undergo five years of supervised release. The TV personality has been open about her mental health struggles and revealed on an episode of RHOSLC she attempted suicide after being charged in the case.