Jen Shah has been sentenced to 78 months (6.5 years) for her role in orchestrating a fraud scheme.
Shah’s husband Sharrieff and their sons, Sharrieff Jr. and Omar, were in the courtroom as the decision was handed down.
Shah’s attorney Priya Chaudhry issued a statement to PEOPLE after the decision: “Jen Shah deeply regrets the mistakes that she has made and is profoundly sorry to the people she has hurt. Jen has faith in our justice system, understands that anyone who breaks the law will be punished, and accepts this sentence as just. Jen will pay her debt to society and when she is a free woman again, she vows to pay her debt to the victims harmed by her mistakes.”
Earlier Friday morning, Judge Sidney Stein spoke to the packed courtroom. According to Inner City Press’s Matthew Russell Lee, Judge Stein told attendees: “Jen Shah’s role on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, which I guess is why the courtroom is so full today, is just that, a role. People should not confuse the character she plays on an entertainment show to the person before me.”
When given her own chance to speak, Lee reported that Shah said, “I am sorry. My actions have hurt innocent people. I want to apologize by saying, I am doing all I can to earn the funds to pay restitution.”
Before Shah was sentenced, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sobelman called her crimes “brazen fraud.” Per Lee, Sobelman added, “Every cooperator told us, ‘Jen Shah is the boss.’ They all knew who she was.”
Before that, Judge Stein had told Chaudhry that her client “was a leader of this conspiracy,” according to Lee. Judge Stein continued, “So this cuts against you, not for you.”
Chaudhry later responded, “Jen has spent month reading the names of those she has hurt. She has prayed for their forgiveness. But she cannot forgive herself. Jen understands she cannot undo the pain or repay them today — but today is about justice for them. Measuring the pain.”
Explaining her client’s motives, she later said, “Jen hoped that the TV spotlight would hide her pain. She spent years trying to hide her feeling, to fake it until she make it. She tried not to see the people who lost money. Her original fraud was on herself.”
Stein countered, “Her activity in this crime took place years before The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City started. So you are saying her hunger for trinkets predates the show?”
Chaudhry said, in part: “Elders, her victims, are teaching her. She regrets the mistakes she has made. She is sorry. She had faith in our justice system. Jen will pay her debt to society.”
Chaudhry closed, “Ms. Shah will celebrate her 50th birthday in a federal prison. … Then she will try to make whole those who lost money. She will once again make her elders proud.”
She said later, “Longstanding untreated mental issues caused me to create my own fractured reality. This is a crucible moment for me. With the proper medication I can now see what happened. I wish I could have stood outside myself. I am sorry.”
Shah addressed her younger son and her father: “To my baby Omar, Mommy is so sorry you were woken up at gunpoint. My late father, I want to tell him I am sorry. I am humbled by your love for me.”
With no further words from Shah, Judge Stein declared, “My intention is to impose a sentence of 78 months of incarceration, and other conditions.”
After the sentencing, Sharrieff walked up to Jen to give her a kiss and a hug. Showing no emotion, she then walked into the stands and hugged her mother and her sons. Soon after, the Shahs left the courthouse.
Shah, 49, and her assistant, Stuart Smith, were arrested in March 2021 for spearheading a phone scam to defraud people over the age of 55. Details later emerged about how the scheme claimed to offer tutoring course to prepare the victims for a salaried sales position.
Even after Smith entered a guilty plea in November 2021, Shah continued to proclaim her innocence — until she entered into a plea deal in July 2022 and admitted in court to her role in the scheme.
This plea deal suggested Shah would be sentenced between 11 and 14 years in prison, though the U.S. government advocated for 10 years. However, Shah asked for a reduced sentence of just three years in a December request to the court.
“The terrible business decisions I made and professional relationships I developed stemmed from some personal painful experiences that I was going through in my life,” she wrote in the request, as reported by CNN.
Shah’s maximum sentence for the crime was 30 years — though she previously agreed not to appeal her case if her sentence was less than 14 years.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Court documents obtained by PEOPLE showed victim impact statements for Shah’s alleged wrongdoings. One man said he “wasted about $40,000 trying to do good for my family,” while another said they paid $100,000. Two of the victims who gave statements said the scam drove them to homelessness.
Chaudhry told PEOPLE at the time: “Ms. Shah is devastated by the suffering she has caused these people. She vows to dedicate her life to trying to make each one whole.”
With reporting by Mary S. Park