Jen Shah: Teresa Giudice’s lawyer reveals her ‘biggest challenge’ after sentencing, gives reality star advice
Teresa Giudice’s family attorney, James Leonard Jr., is lending some advice to “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah following her 78-month prison sentence for a telemarketing scheme that targeted the elderly.
Shah was sentenced on Friday to 6.5 years in prison along with a supervised release of five years after pleading guilty to committing wire fraud.
“I have to believe that there is another side to Ms. Shah, one that drastically differs from the persona shown on television and the individual accused of committing crimes and who is now heading to prison,” Leonard told Fox News Digital following the reality TV star’s sentencing.
He continued: “If I were giving Ms. Shah any advice, it would be to work on practicing humility and living the rest of her life helping others to avoid the pitfalls that caused her demise.”
JEN SHAH SENTENCED TO 78 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR HER ROLE IN NATIONWIDE TELEMARKETING FRAUD SCAM
Leonard, who is not a part of Shah’s legal team, has worked on numerous high-profile cases over the years and represented several reality TV stars, including Giudice of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” fame. In 2016, Giudice and her then-husband Joe Giudice also pleaded guilty in their own fraud case and served time.
Shah was sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein in New York. After about a 90-minute sentencing hearing, Judge Stein ruled she must also forfeit $6.5 million and pay more than $6.6 million in restitution.
Shah was ordered to report to prison by Feb. 17.
Judge Stein noted he was not only sentencing her under the probation recommendation (135-168 months), but also below what the government had recommended (110 months).
However, he said he believed the sentence reflected “the seriousness of the crime” and that it was enough punishment to deter a reoccurrence and deter others from committing the same type of crime.
The judge said Shah seemed to have remorse, but also noted that he doesn’t know “if she truly appreciates the damage” she has caused to the victims.
Moving forward, Leonard said that Shah’s “biggest challenge” will be the “separation from her family and the loss of her freedom, but as far as actual problems in prison, she will be fine as long as she reminds humble and keeps to herself.”
“If she acts like she is portrayed on TV, which I suspect she won’t, things might be a little more difficult,” he cautioned.
In court, Shah spoke before the judge while breaking down in tears at times, especially when apologizing to her family, who was in attendance. She recognized the “shame, pain and tears” she has caused her husband and sons.
“I have failed and disappointed you,” she said of her husband, University of Utah assistant football coach Sharrieff Shah, and their two sons, Sharrieff Jr. and Omar.
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Leonard noted to Fox News Digital that although it is “obviously a difficult day” for Shah and her family, he emphasized that she could have received a much harsher sentencing.
“It is obviously a difficult day for Ms. Shah and her family, but given her potential exposure of up to 14 years in prison with the government aggressively seeking at least 10, for someone who is high-profile to receive a sentence of 6.5 years means her legal team did an amazing job of humanizing her to the judge and were persuasive in their arguments seeking a downward departure,” he said.
“The sentence means that Ms. Shah will likely be released from the custodial portion of her sentence in a little under five years,” Leonard added.
On Friday, Shah appeared to have a serious demeanor and looked tense ahead of her sentencing. She looked behind at her husband, who was seated in the gallery, briefly before the sentencing started.
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The Justice Department initially requested a decade behind bars for the “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star. Her legal team requested a three-year sentence, previously calling Shah “an exceptional mother and a good woman who has already been punished extensively as a result of the sins of her past.”
She originally faced up to 50 years in prison.
Shah initially pled not guilty to the charges in 2021. One year later, she entered a guilty plea as part of an agreement in which the money laundering charge was dropped. She agreed to forfeit $6.5 million and also pay restitution up to $9.5 million.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York’s El Dorado Task Force with support from HSI Salt Lake.
Fox News Digital’s Tracy Wright and Stephanie Giang-Paunon contributed to this report.
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