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Ahead Of Jen Shah’s Pretrial Hearing, Teresa Giudice’s Former Lawyer Explains Why Being On Real Housewives Doesn’t Help

screenshot real housewives of salt lake city jen shah
(Image credit: Bravo)

Jen Shah’s initial arrest for charges related to fraud and money laundering last year, as well as the subsequent aftermath, have been playing out on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City for a few months now. However, her case is still very much ongoing off-camera. The reality star’s pretrial hearing is in fact next week. Ahead of the hearing, Teresa Giudice’s former lawyer has weighed in with his own expertise in these cases and explained why he believes Shah being on the Real Housewives doesn’t help matters any.

As viewers likewise saw play out on The Real Housewives of New Jersey for several seasons, its main cast member, Teresa Giudice, and her husband Joe faced fraud charges. And they ultimately served prison time after taking a guilty plea deal. Giudice would go on to serve almost 12 months in prison herself (and apparently, still talks to some of the women she met there). Her lawyer at that time, James J. Leonard Jr., explained to Fox News Digital that Jen Shah featuring prominently on Salt Lake City will likely pose a similar problem, saying:

I certainly don’t think that [her reality TV status] is something that helps, in all candor. I think people who are in the public eye that find themselves in these legal situations – the scrutiny that comes with being in the public eye, I think, presents challenges that are not in favor of the person. So I don’t think that it is something that would be in her favor.

Teresa Giudice herself admitted as of late that being in the public eye certainly doesn’t do Real Housewives stars any favors in the dating department, either. Her former lawyer told the outlet that Jen Shah’s pretrial hearing this Tuesday will have both sides reporting to the judge about where the case is “ultimately going.” It all could potentially be resolved by a plea bargain or moved ahead to a full trial.

So far, as audiences have seen on the second season of Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, the polarizing star has maintained her innocence in the purported telemarketing scheme she is accused of running. Her mom has put up her retirement to help fight the case, and the teaser for the finale episode even suggested that she will take it all the way to trial.

Jen Shah and her legal team have actually endeavored twice now to get the fraud case thrown out entirely, citing issues with how her arrest went down. The judge denied her attempts, twice. It doesn’t bode well, too, that Shah’s accused co-conspirator and former assistant, Stuart Smith, took a guilty plea deal in November. He’s out on bail now, but his sentencing court date is set for March 3 (per People) and the combined maximum sentence for his three charges is 70 years in prison.

Teresa Giudice’s former lawyer would add that the pretrial hearing for Jen Shah is a “very serious situation.” He knows firsthand – after seeing Giudice separated from her four young daughters for a year – that receiving a guilty verdict in a case isn’t “theater” like how it’s portrayed on Bravo's reality TV franchise. He said about Jen Shah,

I would hope that this is a misunderstanding of some kind because nobody wants to see anybody go to jail and be separated from their family. Trust me, people who have been through it don’t wish that on their worst enemy. The same humility that she should practice is the same one others who are watching should do as well.

Erika Jayne of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has gotten some good news in her own legal problems, but she also feels some kind of way about how being on the show affected things for her. We’ll have to wait and see on February 22 how it all plays out for Jen Shah’s case. In the meantime, fans can catch the Salt Lake City finale, which airs on February 20 at 9 p.m. EST.

Lauren Vanderveen
Lauren Vanderveen

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