From reality TV meltdowns to allegations of fraud, Coach Sharrieff Shah has stood by Jen Shah through it all.
While Bravo watchers were introduced to the couple when The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City launched in late 2020, the twosome met in the ‘90s while attending The University of Utah.
“We had a class together. I saw her, my heart stops immediately,” Sharrieff recalled of his wife on season 1. “I walk up to her [and ask], ‘Is that seat taken?’ She looks at me like, ‘There’s nobody there. I guess not.’ That’s how we met.”
The pair were still in college when Jen got pregnant with their eldest son, who was born in 1994. They would go on to tie the knot that year.
“The second I find out I am devastated because I’m like, ‘You don’t understand. My life just ended. This is against everything I’ve been,’” Jen, who was raised Mormon, recalled on the “Currently Cringing” podcast in 2020 about struggling to tell her parents she was pregnant. “And it was so weird for me because Sharrieff like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so happy.’ Cause his mom calls his dad, his dad gets on the phone and is like, ‘Jen, I’m so excited, baby.’ … And I’m like, ‘Hey, this is really weird. Cause we’re not married.’”
After they got married, Jen converted to Islam, and they welcomed a second son, Omar, in 2003.
“When I was about five years into my marriage, we had our first son, and it was time to start thinking about how we are going to raise him under one religion. It was important to me that we had consistency. I didn’t want my son to be confused with what mommy is practicing and what dad is practicing,” she explained to E! News.
While Jen certainly made waves for her antics during season 1 of RHOSLC, things got real during production of season 2 in March 2021 when she and assistant Stuart Smith were arrested for their alleged roles in a telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims who were mostly over the age of 55.
“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 explained in a statement at the time.
The reality TV personality and her assistant initially pleaded not guilty to all charges. While Smith changed his plea in November 2021, Jen agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud as part of a plea deal, which included a sentencing range of 11 to 14 years under advisory guidelines, in July 2022.
Leading up to her sentencing, which is set for January 6, 2023, after several schedule changes, Jen and Sharrieff asked the judge to reduce the amount of time she should be ordered to spend behind bars to just three years.
“Jen has never been arrested or detained for any crime. My wife’s current legal predicament was caused by a confluence of events that came together at various points, which caused her to spiral out of control,” the University of Utah special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach wrote in a letter to the judge in December 2022.
Sharrieff alleged that troubles in their relationship led Jen to “make catastrophically bad business decisions and develop relationships with awful people.”
“Because of my absence, I was not able to see how badly my wife was suffering,” he continued. “As I think about it now, I saw her spending more time in our bedroom alone. She often fell asleep in our children’s bed waiting for me to come home. She would constantly tell me that she feels so alone.”
While her husband stated that Jen “took the first huge step in making things right by acknowledging her own guilt and accountability,” the government argued that the Bravo star’s “belated expressions of remorse ring hollow” and recommended a sentence of 10 years.
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