A federal judge set bail for Jen Shah, one of the stars of the “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” at $1 million Friday pending trial in the federal fraud case against her.

“I do think there is a risk of flight here,” said U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein, who required the Park City resident to post a $1 million personal recognizance bond secured by $250,000 in cash or property and two co-signers during a hearing in the Southern District of New York.

Shah, 47, pleaded not guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges in connection with an alleged nationwide telemarketing scheme. Federal agents arrested Shah and Stuart Smith, of Lehi, on Tuesday in Utah.

Government prosecutors did not seek to hold them in jail but requested conditions for their release, including the seven-figure bond.

Shah, who portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on reality television, and Smith, 43, who is portrayed as Shah’s first assistant, allegedly generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of people for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam, said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.

“In actual reality and as alleged, the so-called business opportunities pushed on the victims by Shah, Smith, and their co-conspirators were just fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims’ money,” Strauss said in a statement earlier this week. 

Shah’s personal finances were the topic of some discussion during the hearing. She apparently listed no assets or income in her disclosures to the court.

Assistant U.S. attorney Kiersten Fletcher told the judge that can’t be correct. She said Shah and Smith were at the “highest level” of the scheme.

“Ms. Shah has not demonstrated a willingness to disclose her assets,” she said.

Fletcher said Shah and Smith created multiple shell companies to receive money from the telemarketing scam. She said they have access to a large amount of “crime proceeds,” including $5 million in the bank account of a company called Mastery Pro Group.

Shah’s lawyer didn’t argue against the $1 million bond but took issue with the $250,000 to secure it.

They told the judge Shah is not a flight risk and that her passport, which the government seized during a search of her home, has expired. Her family is renting a house and doesn’t own any other real property, they said. The lawyers said Shah could not flee anywhere and not be known because of her role on the “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.”

Fletcher contended the Shah’s public persona isn’t enough to ensure her appearance at future court hearings.

‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ might not be your cup of Swig
Salt Lake City ‘Real Housewives’ star arrested in alleged fraud scheme

Shah is among six Utah women featured on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” that began airing last year. She is wife of the University of Utah assistant football coach Sharrieff Shah.

On its website, Bravo describes Shah as the “queen of her house and her businesses as the CEO of three marketing companies.”

“Always decked out in designer brands, Jen loves to host parties and spares no expense — it’s important to her that everyone knows she is the best host in Utah. With an extravagant personality and sharp tongue, she can go from 0 to 100 very quickly, but usually comes back with apologies and love,” according to the network.

A spokeswoman for Bravo told the Deseret News in an email that the network is not commenting on Shah’s criminal case.

Stein also required Shah and Smith to avoid contact with each other, surrender their passports and to remain in Utah, except for traveling to New York and Washington, D.C., for attorney meetings or court hearings. The judge also restricted them from all telemarketing activities and making any personal or business transactions exceeding $5,000, except to pay legal fees.

Peter Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of the New York field office of Homeland Security Investigations, said Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their success.

“In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people,” he said in an earlier statement. “As alleged, disturbingly, Shah and Smith objectified their very real human victims as ‘leads’ to be bought and sold, offering their personal information for sale to other members of their fraud ring.”

A dozen people have been charged in the case that dates back to 2019. Several have already pleaded guilty to wire fraud and await sentencing.

Federal authorities say from 2012 until March 2021, Shah and Smith along with others carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of people throughout the United States, many of whom were over age 55, by selling them “business services” in connection with their purported online businesses.

Shah and Smith coordinated efforts to traffic in lists of potential victims, or “leads,” many of whom had previously made an initial investment to create an online business with others in the scheme, authorities allege.

Leads were initially generated by sales floors operating in, among other places, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. The operators of those sales floors also worked with telemarketers in the New York and New Jersey area, including in Manhattan.

Authorities contend that Shah and Smith generated and sold leads to other participants for use by their telemarketing sales floors with the knowledge that the individuals they had identified as “leads” would be defrauded by them. They received a share of the fraudulent revenue per the terms of their agreement with those participants, according to authorities.

Shah and Smith made efforts to hide their roles in the business opportunity scheme, including incorporating their business entities using third parties and sending fraud proceeds to offshore bank accounts, authorities say.