SALT LAKE CITY — "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" star Jennifer Shah is asking a federal judge to dismiss the criminal charges against her.
In a new court filing in the Southern District of New York, Shah's lawyers argue that the grand jury indictment leveled against her lacks any specific evidence of what she's accused of doing.
"Notwithstanding the superseding indictment’s generalities about the unspecified 'Participants' carrying 'out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims,' it is pointedly vague on exactly what it means by the conclusory term 'defrauded,' and what Ms. Shah is purported to have actually done," one of her attorneys, Daniel Alonso wrote.
"Crucially, Ms. Shah is not alleged to have actually spoken to any purchaser nor to have made any misrepresentations whatsoever. Instead, the essence of the claim appears to be that, either by herself or acting with others, Ms. Shah sold the names and contact information of people ('leads') to 'telemarketing sales floors with the knowledge that the individuals they had identified as ‘leads’ would be defrauded by the other Participants.'"
Shah and her assistant Stuart Smith are facing telemarketing fraud charges in what federal prosecutors have alleged was a multi-million dollar scheme. She was arrested in March while filming the second season of "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."
In a declaration filed with the court, Shah revealed that she received a phone call from an anonymous person as she was on her way to a taping of the reality TV show.
"Shortly before I was stopped, an unknown person called me and said that my husband had told this unknown person to call me. The unknown caller told me to head home. I immediately tried calling my husband, but he did not pick up even after I called more than once. I began to worry for him," she said, referring to assistant University of Utah football coach Sharrieff Shah.
A few minutes later, she was called by a New York police detective. Shah wrote that she thought it was related to a person she had a protective order against in New York who had stolen money from her and assaulted her.
"Det. [Christopher] Bastos did not tell me why he was calling, but instead told me to pull over, and minutes later, he pulled up in a car with other agents. I was walked to the back of the car, placed in handcuffs, and told that they had a warrant for my arrest," Shah wrote.
"I was at this point very confused and emotionally off-balance from the strange series of events, and thought I might have been the victim of a false identification. I repeatedly asked Det. Bastos clarification questions, including 'Am I under arrest?' and 'Am I going to jail?' which were phrases I used interchangeably and thought of as the same thing. Det. Bastos never answered either question, but repeatedly said words to the effect of, 'We just want to talk to you' and 'I promise we just want to talk to you.' He also told me more than once that 'We just want to make sure you’re OK.'"
Her attorneys argue that police interrogated her for over an hour and misrepresented why she was being questioned. They asked the judge to throw out any statements she made, even after being told her rights.
"Notably, the interrogation itself corroborates that the agents had no intention of telling Ms. Shah the true purpose of the interrogation, and instead presents another highly misleading set of interactions between Det. Bastos and Ms. Shah," Alonso wrote.
"Under the guise of asking for information about other people he was 'interested' in, he sought an admission of knowledge that the entire industry was a 'fraud' (his words). Although it did not work—at no time did Ms. Shah admit to committing fraud, as Det. Bastos tried repeatedly to get her to do—he elicited her apparent knowledge of certain people, companies, government investigations, and the like, at least some of which the government will seek to offer at trial."
Shah has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Federal prosecutors will be given a chance to respond before a judge makes a ruling on whether to dismiss the case.