SALT LAKE CITY — The criminal cases against a pair of members of the "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" cast are moving forward.
A federal judge refused to throw out the criminal indictment against Jen Shah, after her lawyers complained of a pair of Homeland Security agents participating in a recent Hulu documentary about the case. The appearances and publicity of the documentary, they argued, interfere with her right to a fair trial.
"The Government’s conduct here has eradicated Ms. Shah’s right to a fair trial with an untainted jury pool," Shah's attorney, Priya Chaudhry wrote in a letter to the judge.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York countered by pointing to Shah's own TV appearances, telling the judge "the circumstances of the defendant’s arrest have already been the subject of widespread publicity by a television show on which the defendant was a cast member at the time of her arrest and on which she has continued to participate since her arrest, without any apparent concern that additional publicity of the circumstances of her arrest and the allegations against her may affect her ability to receive a fair trial."
In an order, U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein rejected Shah's request to dismiss the indictment.
"Nonetheless, given the televised comments of the HSI agents as well as Shah's well documented media appearances, all parties are reminded of the provisions of Local Crim. R. 23.1 and directed to comply fully with its terms," he said, referencing the rule about disclosure of non-public information or opinion that might interfere with a defendant's right to a fair trial.
Shah has pleaded not guilty to federal fraud charges in what prosecutors allege was a large-scale telemarking scheme that bilked people out of millions of dollars. Her assistant, Stuart Smith, recently pleaded guilty to charges. Shah is set to face trial in New York in March.
Meanwhile, the criminal case against Mary Cosby has been set for trial. She and her son, Robert Cosby Jr., are facing misdemeanor charges of providing unlawful shelter to a runaway and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Court records show that during an appearance in Salt Lake City Justice Court, a two-day trial beginning in February. If convicted, the Cosbys could face a fine.
"The charges sound sinister, but the reality of the situation is much different," Robert Cosby Jr.'s lawyer, Clayton Simms, told FOX 13 in October. "It’s simply a case where Robert’s girlfriend’s mother didn’t want him hanging out, so she called the police. Rather than the Salt Lake City Department focusing on real crime, they’re turning into the relationship police. The basis of this case is just a misunderstanding. We think there’s absolutely no merit to the case."