Jen Shah's legal trouble continues to play out both on screen on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City," as well as in her personal life as her upcoming trial looms.
The reality star was arrested in April on federal fraud charges stemming from allegations she conspired to commit wire fraud and laundered money in connection to a purported telemarketing scam, federal prosecutors said.
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.
Who is Jen Shah?
Shah is a businesswoman and one of several cast members of Bravo's latest "Real Housewives" show based in Salt Lake City, Utah. it is currently airing its second season.
Months before her arrest, during a SiriusXM interview, she said she had three marketing companies: a fashion company, a beauty company and a "lashes" company.
Who is Stuart Smith?
Smith is one of several assistants to Shah.
In the same interview, Shah revealed that she had eight assistants to help her run her various businesses.
The reality star mentioned Smith by name, explaining that he was willing to do anything she asked.
"Stuart [Smith] would literally do anything, anything. Some assistants I won't ask to do certain things, you know?" she said. "One of them is just, she's just strictly virtual. So, of course, I'm not asking her to do [certain things] ... But, like, Stuart is all in for, like, crazy stuff."
What is she accused of doing?
A statement from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss alleges that Shah and Smith "generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam."
In the statement, Strauss claimed that the star, Smith and their "co-conspirators" are guilty of pushing business opportunities onto victims, including "fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims’ money."
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 for show. "In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people," said special agent-in-charge Peter C. Fitzhugh, from New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
"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 in the statement.
What are the charges?
Shah and Smith are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing. They are accused of victimizing 10 or more persons over the age of 55 – a penalty that carries a maximum sentence of 30 years – and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
However, as recently as September, she maintained her innocence in the matter.
"I think what people don't understand is, here in America, you're innocent until proven guilty. I'm innocent," she said during an Instagram Live chat (via People). "And I believe that this is not just my test, this is everybody's test close to me and in my corner."
When did this happen?
The alleged crimes began in 2012, according to a press release. The same release said that she, Smith and "others" were engaged in criminal activity until March 2021.
When will she appear in court?
Shah appeared before a judge after her arrest, when several conditions of her and Smith's release were set. In April, she pleaded not guilty in Manhattan's Southern District of New York during a virtual appearance.
Included in the reported conditions were limitations on travel, no contact with co-defendants, no telemarketing and more. The television personality is currently free on a $1 million bond, but faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Their trial was set to begin in October of 2021 but was pushed back to March during a hearing in August.
That month, ahead of the initial trial date, Shah parted ways with her legal team. At the time, Judge Sidney H. Stein of the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York approved the withdrawal of three attorneys who formerly represented Shah in the case.
Attorneys Daniel R. Alonso, Henry W. Asbill and Michael S. Chu of Buckley LLP will no longer represent Shah. Alonso made the request to remove the three as counsel of record for Shah.
In court documents viewed by Fox News, Alonso states that Shah has retained attorney Priya Chaudhry and two partners to "represent her for all purposes in this matter going forward, rather than Buckley LLP."
What did she contest about her arrest?
In an affidavit, she claimed that she signed a document waiving her Miranda rights because her "contact lenses, which were in my eyes, were dry, and I did not have my reading glasses, so my vision was blurry and I was unable to read the paper in front of me."
Her new lawyers argued that "as a direct result of law enforcement deception and trickery calculated to overpower her will," the court papers seen by The New York Post say.
The star also claimed that she was "confused" and "emotionally off-balance" at the time of her arrest. She says she thought the cuffs had to do with a 2017 New York case in which she was a victim of theft and assault and had an order of protection against the perpetrator.
Is she on "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" Season 2?
The new season of "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City debuted in September with Shah still a part of the main cast. It was announced in August when the first trailer for the series dropped, that her legal troubles would not preclude her from participating and that some of it would actually play out on the show.
Fox News' Julius Young contributed to this report.