Breaking Down the Sentence: What Led to Jen Shah’s 78 Months in Prison, Attorney Duncan Levin Exclusive

Jen Shah from The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City was sentenced to 78 months (6.5 years) in federal prison for wire fraud in a telemarketing scheme that targeted elderly people.

In July 2022 Shah pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and the government sought a 10-year prison term. Shah’s attorneys asked for three years and criminal defense attorney Duncan Levin said Shah’s behavior in the months leading up to being sentenced essentially destroyed any chance of serving less time.

Why did Jen Shah receive a ‘stiff sentence’?

Levin, who is not associated with Shah’s case, told Showbiz Cheat Sheet she was given “a stiff sentence.”

Jen Shah from 'RHOSLC' leaves court after being sentenced.
Jen Shah | Gotham/GC Images

“I think what most impacted the sentence was very callous behavior,” he said. “And then making fun of her victims in the midst of it. There were alleged to be these text messages of her sort of just making light of the whole situation.”

“And I think that coupled with this notion that maybe she was trying to profit off of the crime by selling ‘Justice for Jen’ merchandise right before she was sentenced. Because people’s behavior after they are charged with a crime matters a lot. Their behavior during the alleged commission of a crime matters, but their behavior after they are charged with a crime matters a lot, too. And the judge probably took note of that and handed down a very stiff sentence. So she didn’t do anything to help her get a better sentence.”

Selling merchandise about her case didn’t help either, Duncan Levin says

Shah leaned into the charges, even on RHOSLC with her tagline, “The only thing I’m guilty of is being Shah-mazing.” She also made news at BravoCon when she allegedly crashed the event. “Anyone believing I crashed anyones party needs a reality check, I am the party,” she tweeted. “Also I’m getting paid for Bravocon, stop worrying about where I’m at. If I wasn’t at your event, party or panel then it wasn’t worth my time. Thank you for keeping my name in your mouth and trending.”

Levin said outrageous behavior, plus selling merchandise likely hurt her case. “Her behavior during the commission of the offense probably came across as very offensive,” he remarked. “But, since then, selling merchandise and publicly commenting on it just didn’t do her any favors.”

While higher than she hoped for, Levin said the 78-month sentence was “in the heartland of the guidelines is what they would say.”

What advice does Duncan Levin have for Jen Shah?

Levin, who has represented high-profile celebrities like Anna Sorokin (Delvey), Harvey Weinstein, and Clare Bronfman said having a celebrity status sometimes works against the client.

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“It’s a sentence that reflects the seriousness of the offense, the fact that it took place over a decade. And it was very premeditated. It was very longstanding,” he said. “And so I think that all of these things just worked against her. And then, the other thing I would note, I represent a lot of very high-profile people. Being high profile and in the public eye doesn’t always help. Sometimes it hurts. And this is an example of a time where the judge may have wanted to make some kind of public record or somehow try to have some kind of deterrent effect from the sentence.”

Does Levin have advice for Shah, which could perhaps reduce her sentence once she’s in prison?

“Take the appropriate classes to get to to get FSA (First Step Act) credits, which will reduce her time,” Levin suggested. “Keep her head down and try to be a model citizen and model inmate. And get a great appeals lawyer who can navigate through the legal issues. Because the fact is you have to leave no stone unturned and she needs to make sure that she’s getting a really competent appeal out there as quickly as possible.”