Scott D. Pierce: Is Jen Shah getting out of prison early? Could she return to ‘Real Housewives of SLC?’

Her sentence hasn’t been shortened, but she could get out early, ironically, for good behavior.

(Seth Wenig | AP) Jennifer Shah leaves federal court in New York, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. A judge has sentenced the member of "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" to 6 1/2 years in prison for helping to defraud thousands of people nationwide in a telemarketing scam. Shah, who sobbed Friday as she apologized for her crimes prior to the announcement of the sentence in a New York courtroom, admitted her guilt last July.

Could Jen Shah return to the cast of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” after she’s released from prison?

That is at least theoretically possible. And it’ll be more possible if her 6½-year sentence is reduced.

After pleading guilty to federal charges related to a fraudulent telemarketing scheme that targeted elderly and vulnerable victims, Shah reported to prison in Bryan, Texas, in February. She was scheduled to be released in August 2029.

But, according to a Federal Bureau of Prisons database, Shah is now scheduled to get out in August 2028 — but that turns out to be a projection based on credit for good behavior while she’s behind bars. So, no, her sentence has not been officially shortened. As of yet.

Honestly, the 6½-year sentence seems kind of short, considering the lives Shah and her cohorts ruined — people who lost their savings while Shah lived “a life of luxury.” According to prosecutors, there were thousands of victims, and Shah was a “mastermind” of the operation.

(Photo courtesy of Heidi Gutman/Bravo) Jen Shah at the "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" reunion.

The judge could have sentenced her to 30 years, and prosecutors asked for 10. Her lawyers argued for three years.

Could she rejoin “RHOSLC” in 2028 or 2029? Maybe. If the show’s producers want her back. If the show is still on the air. And, judging by all the other incarnations of “Real Housewives,” odds are that it will still be on the air.

Keep in mind that this is theoretical. Officially, “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” hasn’t yet been renewed for Season Four

, although the show is expected to return.

August 2028 will be almost eight years after “RHOSLC” premiered. Projecting/guessing a bit, production will have been completed on Season Nine, and Season Ten will be a few months away.

What are the odds that “RHOSLC” will make it to 10 seasons? Pretty good. Five of the other nine American “Real Housewives” series have already run more than 10 seasons — “Atlanta,” “Beverly Hills,” “New Jersey,” “New York City” and “Orange County.”

Only three “Real Housewives” shows have been canceled, and two have been revived. “D.C.” got the ax after one season in 2010 — after one of the cast members crashed a state dinner at the White House while being filmed for the show. It was revived in 2017, sort of, as “Real Housewives of the Potomac,” which is now at seven seasons and counting.

“Miami” ran for five seasons on Bravo (2011-13); it was revived in 2021 to stream exclusively on Peacock, where it’s at two additional seasons and counting.

Only “Dallas” (five seasons, 2016-21) has been dropped and not revived. As of yet.

(Rich Schultz | AP photo/file)This March 4, 2014 file photo shows Teresa, left, and Joe Giudice, from "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," leaving federal court in Newark, N.J. They pleaded guilty in 2014 to bankruptcy fraud and submitting false loan applications to get $5 million in mortgages and construction loans.

So, no, it’s not just crazy speculation that “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” could run 10-11 seasons or more.

But would Bravo and producers want Shah back when she gets out of prison? Well, there’s precedent for that. In 2021, Teresa Giudice returned to “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” after serving an 11-month prison sentence for fraud. And Bravo and the producers have kept a whole lot of Housewives on the various shows despite a lot of terrible behavior.

Remember, Mary Cosby didn’t get fired from “RHOSLC” because of all her racist behavior or (unproven) allegations that she was scamming members of her church. She was fired because she didn’t show up for the Season Two reunion.

And despite all that, Cosby will reportedly return to “RHOSLC” for at least a few scenes in the upcoming season.

The bottom line is — if Bravo and the producers think they can get a ratings bump by restoring Shah to the cast in a few years, of course they’ll do it.

(Photo courtesy of Bravo) Mary Cosby was fired from "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" at the end of Season 2.

But 5-to-6 years is a very long time in television. These days, the only thing certain about TV is change, and it’s entirely possible that the “Real Housewives” phenomenon could be over by 2028.

Geez, without “Housewives,” what would Bravo air? Assuming Bravo still exists.

It’s also possible that, after a few years in prison, Shah will disappear from the pop culture zeitgeist and Bravo won’t be interested in her.

Other than getting sent to prison, that might be the cruelest blow of all for Shah.

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