To the shock of Bravo fans, Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah was arrested in March, not long after the show’s final reunion special aired. She pled not guilty to the charges of wire fraud and money laundering in court, but she has since found herself in even more hot water. This time, it’s over a crowdfunding campaign in her name.
Per the Daily Mail, Jen Shah’s cousin Danny Filipe set up a $2.5 million crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to help Shah pay for legal fees concerning her case. He specifically asked “10,000 caring souls to donate $250.” The now-deleted campaign sparked a heavy backlash from spectators who saw it as “shameless” and “disgusting,” given the charges in question.
Jen Shah and several others are accused of participating in a telemarketing scheme that allegedly cheated hundreds, most of whom are reportedly elderly victims. So to many, this attempt to procure more funds for Shah's legal case came across a bit callous in the face of the still unfolding allegations. Even more confusing to some was Shah’s portrayal of a wealthy and glamourous lifestyle on the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City yet, here, fans are essentially being asked to bail her out of trouble.
According to Jen Shah’s cousin in the campaign’s statement, the family had up until that point spent $138,000 for her legal defense. The $2.5 million ask was to cover further expenses for her upcoming trial in October, including reviewing “over 1 million documents,” hiring experts and investigators, and payroll for legal research. He said:
Jen has to have the economic wherewithal to fight the government’s lawyers, who have an open checkbook and can spend millions of dollars prosecuting this case.
The crowdfunding campaign in Jen Shah’s name also seemed to imply that she was falsely accused. The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star said as much in her one and only statement on the arrest, when she thanked fans for “not believing the hype” and jokingly highlighted fan-made “Free Jen” merch.
This isn’t the first time that Jen Shah has been in hot water, however. She made a name for herself on the freshman season of Real Housewives of Salt Lake City by getting into several confrontations with her castmates. Shah was also implicated in a leaked audio controversy prior to her arrest, which supposedly saw her curse out and threaten a former employee.
It seems, though, that Jen Shah is hoping her Real Housewives fanbase will help her out of the legal situation. Along with the (now-defunct) crowdfunding campaign, Shah also set up a Cameo account a few weeks ago, charging $99 per personalized message from the reality star. In the past, Bravo fans have proven loyal, or at least very invested, given how they managed to delay Shah’s original arraignment hearing. The Real Housewives star is currently out on $1 million bail but is reportedly continuing to film the show’s second season.