“I think she’s probably going to get the low end of the [prison sentence] range. 135 months or a lesser sentence,” Neama Rahmani, former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, exclusively told Us Weekly about Shah’s case on Tuesday, July 12. “These are very high guidelines. I wouldn’t be surprised if a judge deviated downwards.”
The reality star, 48, was arrested in March 2021 alongside assistant Stuart Smith. Shah, for her part, was accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. After initially pleading not guilty, the Bravo personality changed her plea on Monday, June 11.
“In 2012 to March 2021 in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere I agreed with others to commit wire fraud,” she said during a court hearing in New York City. “I knew this was wrong. I knew many people were harmed and I’m so sorry.”
Shah, who previously faced up to 30 years in prison for the wire fraud charge, could be given a prison sentence of up to 14 years. (The U.S. Attorney’s office dropped the second charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering following the change in her plea.)
“Ms. Shah is a good woman who crossed a line. She accepts full responsibility for her actions and deeply apologizes to all who have been harmed,” Shah’s lawyer Priya Chaudhry told Us in a statement on Monday. “Ms. Shah is also sorry for disappointing her husband, children, family, friends, and supporters. Jen pled guilty because she wants to pay her debt to society and put this ordeal behind her and her family.”
According to Rahmani, Shah’s sentencing will have a different conclusion because she entered a guilty plea. Smith, for his part, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice in November 2021. He initially claimed he was not guilty in the fraud case.
“Jen was potentially looking at an additional 100 months in prison, if she took the case to trial and lost. It’s a lot of time, but it would’ve been much worse if she went to trial and was convicted,” Rahmani explained to Us. “It really depends on the judge. They have complete and total discretion when it comes to sentencing and she’s waived her right to appeal.”
Amid Shah’s legal issues, Bravo exec Andy Cohen weighed in on the Utah native’s decision. “All it means is you’re changing your guilty plea,” Cohen, 54, said during an episode of his Radio Andy show on Monday. “I don’t know how I feel about this.”
Scroll down for a breakdown of Rahmani’s thoughts on Shah’s legal woes: