The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah’s husband, Sharrieff Shah, could be liable along with her for up to $9 million in restitution payments after the reality TV star changed her plea to guilty in a last-minute decision ahead of her federal trial last Monday.
Jen was arrested in March 2021 while cameras rolled during the filming of Season 2 of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Jen maintained her innocence against the charges, even doing a sit-down interview in June.
Her trial was set to begin on Monday, but she then suddenly changed her plea in front of Judge Sidney Stein, and Jen took full responsibility for the charges against her.
As Monsters and Critics reported, Jen Shah pleaded guilty to money laundering and fraud; she faces 168 months in prison and must forfeit $6.5 million plus pay restitution to victims of up to $9 million.
Jen and Sharrieff Shah got married in 1994 and had two children, Sharrieff Jr. and Omar. Jen’s alleged crimes occurred during her marriage to the Utah basketball coach, and although he was not implicated, a legal expert says he could still be liable to pay for her crimes.
Jen Shah’s husband Sharrieff could be liable if she cannot pay the government
People reported that Jen’s husband could be liable because Jen acquired wealth during her marriage to the professional coach.
Jen agreed to forfeit $6 million and pay restitution of $9 million the day her trial for fraud was to begin.
Attorney Emily D. Baker said, “First, the forfeiture. The forfeiture allows for substituting of assets. So, any assets that she owns can be forfeited to the government to cover that $6.5 million in forfeiture. That also depends on how much they took when they did the search warrant, because they had the right to grab money, property, things like that.”
She added, “So, the government might already have some money or property of hers.”
The attorney continued that there was an interesting phrase in the plea deal that could make Sharrieff Shah Sr. liable should Jen be unable to pay.
The attorney explained, “There’s a funny sentence in the plea deal that they could be jointly and separately liable together, and that would be very interesting because that would reduce it. But if she can’t pay, there’s not much she can do. It will always be there, and they can garnish any income. If she writes a book, they can garnish that. So, after the forfeiture is done, they can go after any income.”
Attorney Baker explained that even Sharrieff’s income as a football coach for the University of Utah could be at risk if it were deemed marital property.
The attorned revealed, “Things that are separate to him, no, but anything [they share as a married couple, yes] — and that can be his income and stuff like that. Most things are going to be considered marital property, so yes. This is their debt. It’s in her name, but he’s not going to be able to have marital property that’s not a potential to be attached for this restitution.”
Finally, the attorney shared that even if Sharrieff were to get a divorce, it would not matter because the wealth accumulation occurred during Jen and Sharrieff’s marriage.
Jen Shah maintained her innocence for more than a year
Last month, Jen slammed a Hulu documentary, which investigated the fraud and money laundering charges against her. Jen had maintained her innocence until the day the trial was to begin.
Jen Shah said in an interview that the documentary creators never bothered to speak with her. She shared, “I saw little tidbits here and there, right? But the documentary itself, I didn’t watch it because, first of all, they didn’t talk to me.”
She continued, “That was my perception of it because I knew it wasn’t based on any facts. So I didn’t watch it at all, and my family didn’t watch it.”
Jen’s change of heart is not surprising, Pew Research found only 2 percent of federal cases make it to trial, and more than 90 percent of federal charges result in a guilty plea.