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'Real Housewives of Salt Lake City' star Jen Shah asks judge to dismiss fraud case

Shah's attorneys say the government's indictment does not support the charges against her.
Image: Jen Shah in the \"Real Housewives of Salt Lake City\".
Jen Shah of the "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."Bravo / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images file

Jen Shah, the "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" star accused of running a nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme, asked Monday for the government's case against her to be dropped.

Shah's attorneys argued in court documents that an indictment charging her and alleged co-conspirator, Stuart Smith, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering "is not at all clear."

The lawyers said the prosecutors used "vague language and sleight-of-hand" in the indictment, while simultaneously producing 1.3 million documents as part of their discovery.

"This information cannot be adequately reviewed in a lifetime, and requires, as we argue below, that the government particularize the charges in a way that this relatively bare-bones superseding indictment does not," Shah's attorneys wrote.

"Nowhere does the indictment allege, as required, facts sufficient to establish that Ms. Shah joined this purported conspiracy willfully and with the specific intent to defraud the telemarketing purchasers," they added. "Thus, this indictment should be dismissed because the facts it alleges, even if taken as true, are insufficient to support the crimes charged."

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Federal authorities allege that Shah, 47, and her "first assistant," Smith, conspired to defraud older and computer illiterate people by operating multistate telemarketing and in-person sales teams that would sell "essentially non-existent" services and fight consumer efforts to obtain refunds.

"Shah and Smith undertook significant efforts to conceal their roles in the Business Opportunity Scheme. For example, Shah and Smith, among other things, incorporated their business entities using third parties' names," said an indictment filed in the Southern District of New York.

The alleged scam began in 2012 and continued until 2021, according to the Justice Department.

Shah and Smith have both pleaded not guilty.

Shah's attorneys also wrote in the document filed Monday that she was "incredibly confused and emotionally off-balance" when she was arrested in Salt Lake City in March.

When a New York City Police Department detective first contacted her, she thought he was calling to talk about an order of protection she had against a man who victimized her in New York, they added.

After she was put in handcuffs, Shah thought "she might have been the victim of a false identification," her lawyers said.

In an effort to get clarification, she waived her Miranda rights, her attorneys said. Even though the detective read them to her, Shah could not read each statement as she initialed them because he contacts were dry, according to the lawyers.

"Although Ms. Shah waived her Miranda rights, she did not do so voluntarily, but rather as a direct result of law enforcement deception and trickery calculated to overpower her will," they wrote.

Shah was "coerced" into talking to the detective for about an hour and 20 minutes, "although it did not work—at no time did Ms. Shah admit to committing fraud," the lawyers said. Still, they are still asking for her statements to the detective to be thrown out if their motion to dismiss the whole case is denied.