For more than a year now, Jen Shah has been proclaiming her innocence regarding the conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering charges against her. But in a shocking turn of events, the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star reversed her plea to a guilty one in court recently. She’s heading straight to sentencing in November as a result, and it’s all but certain that she’ll face some amount of prison time. (Estimates guess somewhere between 14 to 30 years.) Yet, the question remains: what does all this mean for her tenure on the Bravo show?
Technically, the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City has already been filming Season 3 for several months. Jen Shah is among the cast’s returning alums, so we know at least some of her legal woes of late will be documented as they were in Season 2. According to a source for People, the fraud case is actually a “very big part” of Shah’s future storylines. However, will she also be a part of a potential fourth season too? The source claimed:
As many will recall, Teresa Giudice had been charged with fraud counts similar to Jen Shah by the federal government back in 2014, alongside her husband Joe Giudice. She took a plea deal that ultimately sent her to prison for almost a full year. The mother of four filmed the Real Housewives of New Jersey right up until she had to turn herself in, and her family (some of whom are co-stars on the reality series) continued to do so afterwards. Presumably Bravo would indeed like to pull off the same arrangement with Jen Shah.
Nevertheless, the marketing exec’s charges are a lot heftier than Teresa Giudice’s were, so any sort of comeback return (as it was with Giudice) would be a long way off. It's likely RHOSLC will feature Jen Shah in Season 4 in some capacity based on the footage the network already captured and since her sentencing is still many months away. But anything more is likely just wishful thinking.
Jen Shah’s one and only tell-all interview on the matter, outside of Bravo, happened just a few weeks prior to her pleading guilty. At that point, she was still indicating that she was innocent in her strongly worded message to the naysayers. So many are wondering, why then the sudden change of heart from the TV personality? Some speculation has it that the convictions of fellow reality TV stars Todd and Julie Chrisley (for, again, similar charges) in June were a strong warning to Shah of her chances if she took her own case to trial as well. Truth be told, Teresa Giudice’s former lawyer had also warned about the troubles ahead for Shah’s case in court.
Andy Cohen, executive producer of the Real Housewives franchise and its longtime reunion host, initially reacted to the plea reversal with slight ambivalence. Meanwhile, her Salt Lake City co-stars have been mostly silent on the situation. More recently though, Cohen followed up his previous statements by saying on his radio show (via People) that he is “especially upset for her victims” and that “she lied for so long.” He claims he had been cheering Jen Shah on due to the adamancy of her innocence. The 54-year-old talk show host added:
There are some viewers who think Jen Shah should be immediately fired from the show because of her (now formal) admittance of guilt in the nationwide telemarketing scheme that allegedly victimized the elderly and others. Meghan McCain, who has previously advocated for “justice” regarding RHOBH’s Erika Jayne and her legal problems, has echoed the calls for Shah’s removal, per her op-ed for The Daily Mail. Given the fact that Jennie Nguyen was fired earlier this year from RHOSLC for a racial scandal and her co-star Mary Cosby supposedly walked away on her own accord after her own controversies, it doesn’t exactly bode too well for the reported fraudster.
We’ll see how it all plays out in the coming months. Past seasons of the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City are currently available for streaming on Peacock Premium.
Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.
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