UPDATE: Saturday, December 11 — The request to dismiss Jen Shah’s case has been denied.
“Dismissal of an indictment is an ‘extreme sanction’ that is to be utilized ‘only in the rare case’,” Judge Sidney H. Stein wrote in the dismissal, citing cases that have set the precedent.
In his decision, which was obtained by Us Weekly, he stated, “Indeed, there has been no evidence whatsoever proffered to suggest that Shah’s right to a fair trial has been compromised or prejudiced in any respect.”
UPDATE: Monday, December 6 — The US Attorney opposed Shah’s motion to dismiss her case on Friday, December 3, on the basis that “the defendant has not and cannot demonstrate any likelihood of success on the merits of any such motion.”
The Bravo personality’s legal team argued in response that the court should consider the government officials who chose to participate in The Housewife & the Shah Shocker.
“Make no mistake, the Government cannot shift the blame to Hulu or ABC News for the manner in which the final program was edited,” the legal docs stated on Monday, December 6. “The Government and its agents publicly expressed their opinions to the press about a pending case, therefore the Government is fully accountable for all that followed. Like any wrongdoer, the Government is entirely responsible for the entire damage caused by its violation of the rules.”
The filing also claimed that “improper and unrepentant conduct of the prosecution team has caused irreparable damage to Ms. Shah’s rights to a fair trial, free from prejudice.”
Original story below:
In court documents obtained by Us Weekly, attorneys for Shah, 48, filed a letter that requested her case be dismissed on the basis that the new doc violated the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star’s right to a fair trial. According to the paperwork, Shah’s legal team is arguing that there won’t be an “untainted jury pool” now that the documentary is available for everyone to watch ahead of her March 2022 trial.
“Ms. Shah respectfully requests that the Court grant her leave to file a motion to dismiss the indictment,” the legal docs, which were filed on Tuesday, November 30, read. “Given both the extensive viewership of Hulu nationwide and Ms. Shah’s public notoriety, a change in venue would not protect Ms. Shah’s rights, nor would alternative remedies such as a detailed voir dire or emphatic jury instructions.”
Shah made headlines in March when she and her assistant Stuart Smith were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
“Jennifer Shah, who portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on ‘reality’ television, and Stuart Smith, who is portrayed as Shah’s ‘first assistant,’ allegedly generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a press release following Shah’s arrest. “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.”
The ABC News documentary, which dropped on Hulu on Monday, November 29, features interviews from two alleged victims, the agents that are part of the investigation and legal experts.
Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge Rick Patel addressed Shah’s alleged involvement in selling “lead lists,” saying, “The folks that are behind this are pros at what they do. It is disgusting. And what we’d like to tell any victim is, it’s not your fault, please come forward, because we need your help to make sure this doesn’t happen to more people.”
In the November filing, Shah’s attorney argued that that the interviews with Homeland Security Investigations offered details on her case that weren’t previously made public in an effort to “poison the jury pool.”
Although Shah and her team didn’t provide a comment for the documentary, her aunt Lehua Vincent showed support for her niece.
“This is the most difficult time for our entire family. The Jen Shah that I know is a woman who has come from a culture that is deeply rooted in honesty, loyalty and hard work,” Vincent said. “There’s just no way that Jen has the ability to be harmful or hurtful or disrespectful. You are innocent until proven guilty … and I believe her to be nothing but innocent.”
Ahead of the Hulu doc’s premiere, Smith, 43, changed his initial not guilty plea and instead plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
“He admitted to hiding ownership and money, defrauding elderly people and lying to the Federal Trade Commission in a deposition, which constituted perjury,” attorney Ronald Richards, who is not involved with the case but who appeared in The Housewife & the Shah Shocker, told Us on November 19.
With reporting by Diana Cooper