Ahead Of Fraud Trial, Real Housewives Star Jen Shah Has A Message For Both Her 'Naysayers' And Supporters

screenshot rhslc
(Image credit: Bravo)

In March of 2021, Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’s Jen Shah was arrested amidst filming the show on federal charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Allegedly, she was involved in a nationwide telemarketing scheme that defrauded vulnerable populations. Some of the co-conspirators in the case, including Shah’s longtime assistant Stuart Smith, have already pled guilty and await sentencing. The reality star has maintained her innocence, however, and is hoping that her upcoming trial next month doesn’t get delayed any further. Ahead of those proceedings, she had a surprise message for both her “naysayers” and supporters.

The 48-year-old mother of two has largely refrained from doing any in-person interviews in the lead up to the trial. Recently, however, she decided to sit down with YouTube’s Up and Adam! for a nearly two-hour-long tell-all about her personal and legal situation. The host asked how Jen Shah felt about the backlash she received in March for releasing a formal “Free Jen Shah” merch line in light of the very serious allegations against her. Shah responded,

My answer to any of the naysayers, two words: Shah Squad. That’s my answer.

The Bravo alum clarified that her fans were the ones to actually come up with the idea for the “Free Jen Shah” movement on social media, not herself, following the initial arrest. She got a bit emotional when talking about the supportive side of the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City fanbase, too, saying,

My Shah Squad, they are my army. They are my family out there. They are the individuals that have stood by me and supported me. They are part of my extended family because they are the people that give me that positive motivation out there that let me know, ‘We believe in you, and you’re inspiring me, and you’ve made a difference in my life.’ So, I love my Shah Squad, and I appreciate. Not everyone has a squad, but I have the best one.

In her view, the merch (which included sayings like “Not Guilty,” “Shah Squad,” and “Shahmazing”) had a much bigger meaning to it than what the critics perceived. Jen Shah shared that it was emblematic of her innocence and the rule of law. She said,

'Free Jen Shah,' it’s not just about me or – it represents so much more. 'Free Jen Shah' is really free not only me, but I feel like it’s an example for anybody out there also that has been wrongly accused of something. … 'Free Jen Shah,' in its essence, means you’re upholding the constitution.

Fans will remember how Jen Shah famously said in Season 2 of the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City that she would like to hire Kim Kardashian for her legal team. Kardashian has long been advocating on behalf of death row inmates, lengthy drug sentences, and the wrongfully accused to be released from prison. (And she’s passed her baby bar exam on her way to becoming a fully fledged lawyer.) Well, during her sit-down interview, Shah claimed that she had been “very serious” about hiring Kardashian because she respects those efforts on behalf of the Black community in particular and her being on the “right side of justice.”

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City fan-favorite has herself been fighting her fraud case tooth and nail. She attempted to get the charges dismissed altogether twice, but to no avail. In addition, Jen Shah and her legal team have also filed for RHSLC footage to not be used as evidence in the trial. According to Law360 on that front, the judge ruled that the prosecutors needed to “steer clear” of the reality series footage but could use relevant clips such as Shah receiving a search warrant on camera. Speaking on the Up and Adam!, Shah reiterated that her continued efforts are to prove her innocence. She stated,

To me, this is the only option for me, is to fight, to show everybody out there, who was so quick to jump on the bandwagon and make assumptions, that you know what? I'm innocent. You fight to vindicate your name, and your family's name. I'm fighting for my family.

Jury selection for Jen Shah’s trial begins on July 18. Check back here for more updates on the reality star and her case in the coming weeks, as well as what else is in store on the 2022 TV schedule.

Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.