Since her arrest on federal fraud and money-laundering charges on March 31, “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah has had very little to say publicly about her legal woes. But on the latest episode of the Bravo series, Shah says that not only is she innocent, she’s also a victim.
Whether her case will be affected by her assistant/co-defendant’s decision to change his plea to guilty to the same charges on Friday remains to be seen.
The episode also features the most specific allegation against Mary Cosby to date — that she somehow convinced a former member of her church to mortgage his home and give her hundreds of thousands of dollars from the proceeds.
Jen says she didn’t do it
Cameras are there as Jen visits the office of one of her lawyers, Clayton Simms. They’re waiting to receive evidence, or so-called “discovery,” from the prosecution — police reports, bank records, surveillance video — at which point her attorneys will “get a better idea” of what prosecutors “think their theory is. We know you’re innocent, right?” Simms says.
Jen pleaded not guilty to the charges, and she insists she’s innocent. “What I have been accused of is absolutely the complete opposite of anything I would ever do in my life,” she says. “If I have any fault, it is because I am too giving and I help too many people.”
She says the “whole experience” has been “surreal.” And she offers more info about what happened the day she got arrested — when she got a phone call while she was on a shuttle bus with four of the other Housewives.
“I’m thinking Sharif is sick, I’m going home,” she says. “When I was sitting on the bus, I got a phone call that showed my husband’s phone number on my phone.” (That would, perhaps, explain why she answered the call, “Hi, baby.”)
“And then I was like — wait, this is not my husband’s voice,” she says. “They told me, ‘You need to go home, get [her teenage son] Omar and then come meet Sharrieff. He’s at the University of Utah Hospital.” (She didn’t say — she may not know — who was on the line.) “I immediately went to — oh my God, is Sharrieff, OK? This is an emergency.” (She did not mention being told that Sharrieff had internal bleeding, which is what she told her fellow Housewives.)
When she was pulled over by police, she was “thinking — is my husband OK? Are my kids OK? … I didn’t know what was going on. I feel like I’m still in shock. Kind of in a fog.”
And then her voice breaks and she starts to cry. “I didn’t grow up with a lot. I worked so hard to get where I am,” Jen says. “And to have this happen. I tried to help so many people along the way. … I don’t understand.”
And the “worst part,” she says, is that it’s affecting her husband and her sons, which is “killing me. I don’t want them to hurt.”
The Housewives react
Over in Vail, Colorado, shortly after Jen’s arrest, Lisa Barlow, Mary Cosby, Heather Gay, Meredith Marks, Jennie Nguyen and Whitney Rose are still trying to process their feelings.
And there’s more speculation that something untoward was happening in Jen’s personal life. “I just think she was meeting up with somebody other than her family,” Lisa says. Heather says she “never considered that it was something as scandalous as, like, another man. And if Lisa knows who it is ... why won’t she just tell us?”
Jennie, who’s generally the voice of reason, says they “need to know” if their suspicions are true. Actually, they just want to know.
Lisa says that after a recent dispute, Jen called her and cursed her out on the phone while she was driving with her kids in the car. And they all say they got “weird text messages” from someone they believe to be Jen.
Meredith digs into Jen’s life
Meredith surprises the other Housewives with the news that she hired a private investigator to dig into Jen’s life. “My son was being threatened, and the investigator told me he thought it was extraordinarily likely that it was coming from Jen,” she says.
Meredith asks the other Housewives if any of them want to continue to be friends with Jen. Jennie says she’s not going to abandon her. “It’s a lot today, but we can’t just say, ‘Oh yeah, now she’s getting arrested. We’re just going to leave her to the side.’” In a confessional, Jennie says the discussion is making her “very uncomfortable. Jen is not here, and they’re bashing her without facts. Maybe I should watch my back.”
Heather says she will “a hundred percent help” Jen. “She is my friend. … And I think the only true value of friendship is when you’re down.”
Meredith asks Heather if she’ll visit Jen in prison. Heather says she will. “The things that I hated about her before she got arrested will probably always be there. But there’s things about her that I love and those things still exist and I’m going to show up.”
Lisa is more conflicted. “At what point is it being a good friend or just being [expletive] stupid?”
Mary’s comments are interesting, in light of the fact that she’s the “first lady” of her church: “I never seen potential in Jen. I never seen good in her.”
In Whitney’s opinion, “Jen owes it to every single one of us to tell us the truth about what she has been up to.”
Meredith gets downright angry as she make it clear that innocent until proven guilty doesn’t apply to Jen. “Can we talk about the hundreds of lives she has ruined through her actions?” she asks loudly and severely. “And I’m supposed to feel bad for her? … We’re not friends. ... She’s continually abused me and slapped me in the face. Why would I show up for her?”
Meredith says she needs to make “something very clear” to the other Housewives — she is “finished” with Jen. “I do not want her in my presence. I don’t want her in my store. I don’t want her in my home, and I don’t want her around my family. Is that clear? So if you want to invite Jen, DO NOT INVITE ME.”
Mary acts weird. Again.
Over in Vail, Heather, Meredith, Whitney, Lisa and Jenny are working on making breakfast when Mary arrives. While some people might ask a friend to cook them an egg, Mary says this: “Oooh, look at your eggs, Whitney. Are you only doing them for yourself?”
“Do you want an egg?” Whitney asks. “Yes, I would love to have an egg,” Mary replies.
Whitney isn’t thrilled, because she knows how picky Mary is. “I don’t want the pressure of cooking her egg,” she says. And Heather adds, “Dude, I wouldn’t want the pressure cooking her anything.” But Whitney does Mary the favor — and, as expected, Mary finds fault with it. “I don’t trust Whitney,” she says and puts the egg in the microwave “because I didn’t see her wash her hands. That’s the only way to kill the germs.”
While shopping, Mary insults the owners of a sunglasses store. Lisa is trying on sunglasses, and Mary’s germ phobia manifests: “I wish you would’ve cleaned them first,” she tells the store owners. The owners had already done just that.
That evening, the Housewives attend a Swiss-themed dinner. They wear cutesy Swiss outfits and they’re all having fun — except Mary. As she gets into her costume she complains. Out loud. To herself. “Mary’s over it,” Mary says. “This is why I don’t like road trips.” She talks/grumbles to herself about how she dislikes everything that’s happening. She blames talking to herself on the pandemic and says she’s “working on it.”
When she arrives (last) at the party, Meredith asks her if she wants a shot. “No,” Mary says flatly. “I want meat.” She describes the gathering as “torture.”
Later in the evening, when Mary makes an inane, non-sequitur comment and no one pays attention to her, she talks to herself again. “See, that’s why I need to go to bed,” she says. “Talking in this group, you’re not talking. You’re talking to yourself.” She does not, however, slip off quietly. She announces she intends to depart, so that the other Housewives will beg her to stay.
“I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer,” she says. It’s way too late to start worrying about that.
Whitney, Mary and the shot ski
Whitney brought her “shot ski” — a small snow ski with holders for four shot glasses, the idea being that four people take a shot at the same time. It’s weird and sort of college-esque, but Mary makes no attempt to have any fun with the other Housewives.
“Who does that at our age?” Mary asks in a confessional. “I mean, even at Whitney’s age.” (She’s 48; Whitney is 34.) When Lisa encourages Mary to join in, Mary replies, “Did you not hear me?”
“Mary can be kind of moody, and apparently she’s not in the mood for a shot ski,” Whitney says. “Probably because it’s my shot ski, my idea.”
Mary vs. Whitney
Mary continues on with her weird vendetta against Whitney, who was the only one of the Housewives to remain her friend through much of Season 1. Mary remains furious that Whitney didn’t answer her Facetime calls while driving a kids’ carpool.
Whitney broaches the subject, expressing her love for the woman she considers her friend. And she says she was “really hurt” by Mary’s comment that she doesn’t consider them friends. Mary, who appears to be the only one at the party who wasn’t drinking, is falling asleep on Meredith’s shoulder while Whitney is trying to talk to her. “I don’t think Mary gives a [expletive] about me,” Whitney says in a confessional.
Mary complains that Whitney doesn’t listen to her, and when Whitney asks for clarification on that, Mary lets out a big sigh and says with great condescension, “Oh, Lord help me.” Whitney points out that Mary talks to her like she’s a child. “I’m not your child, Mary,” Whitneys says. And Mary replies: “Thank God you’re not.”
Whitney points out, accurately, that Mary treats her differently than she treats the other Housewives, who are closer to Mary’s age. Mary waves her off condescendingly and leaves.
Later, in a confessional, Mary claims she refused to listen to Whitney because the younger woman had been drinking. “And, clearly, she’s not going to remember what we talked about in the morning. So why would I sit here and waste my time and argue with Whitney about something that she’s not going to remember?”
It’s worth pointing out that Whitney was awake and engaged. Mary was not.
As Mary exits, Meredith tries to bring her back. “She just wants to hear you tell her that you love her,” Meredith says. Mary replies, rather rudely, “Well, I will. On another day. She won’t get it today.”
“I think that I just got excommunicated from Mary’s church,” Whitney says.
The discussion turns to Mary’s church, and Whitney says that she has protected Mary from all the rumors about her, her husband and their church. “The congregation believes that Mary is God. That is very clear,” Whitney says. And congregants worship her. “I believed her. I went to her church, and then I realized that I was being lied to.”
Meredith is still troubled because Lisa’s friend, Cameron — a former member of Mary’s church — warned her to be careful when dealing with Mary. Heather dismisses Cameron as a “disgruntled former member of Mary’s church.” And Heather, Whitney, Meredith and Jennie become increasingly agitated as they insist that Lisa reveal what Cameron told her about Mary. Lisa resists. “People have to be able to trust me with sharing things,” she says.
“Getting Lisa to say this information about Mary is like trying to get a Mormon man to admit that he’s ever seen porn,” Heather says. “It shouldn’t be this hard for you to tell us what you know.”
Heather compares the Mary situation to the Jen situation. “Listen, we are a group of women who have just been completely traumatized by our friend getting arrested practically in front of us,” she says. “All of us had warning bells and red flags that went off within all of us and we turned the other eye because we didn’t want to upset her, we wanted to stay in her good graces. ... And then you’re telling me that you have a friend who is a victim of our friend, Mary, and we should talk about that.”
Then we see a clip from earlier in the day when Meredith asks Mary about people making “cryptic, negative remarks about your church.” Mary poo-poos it and replies, “My grandmother used to say, ‘It’s not who says it, it’s who believes it.” (Huh?)
“And then [Mary] said, ‘Meredith, what church do you know that people don’t have negative things to say about? And I thought it was a fair answer,” Meredith said. Heather agrees.
Lisa says she trusts Cameron and believes everything he told her. “Cameron has had extreme religious trauma being a member of her church,” she says. Meredith is irate: “Religious trauma is the most abstract thing I have ever heard in my life. All of these insinuations are being made that are way more damaging, I would guess, than what the truth is. … I’m getting angry and upset. … I need answers. Give me a concrete example …”
“He mortgaged his house and gave her three hundred grand,” Lisa blurts out.
Missionary moment • Heather mentions that she went on a mission to France for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Portion control • Meredith provides an extended explanation for how to make a “mini-dietetic s’more.” Which means you use the regular ingredients (graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows) but you use small portions. “Why has she withheld this nugget of information,” Heather says with a laugh. “I can see the campaign: ‘For fat girls who like to camp.’ Sign me up! I’m going to be their poster child!”
Gone to the dogs • Heather, Whitney and Jennie go sledding with sled dogs. “These dogs are a lot easier to control than the bitches back home,” Whitney says in a confessional. And later, Whitney asks, “Can you get a DUI on a dog sled?”
She’s confused • Mary says that the town of Vail reminds her of “Harry Potter at Disneyland.” There’s no Harry Potter attraction at Disneyland — it’s at Universal.