Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah's husband Sharrieff Shah, a.k.a. Coach Shah, has stood beside her throughout her entire legal fiasco. The Bravo star was accused of operating a major telemarking scheme in a fraud case, promising adults 55+ marketing services that she recently admitted amounted to nothing. After a year of maintaining her innocence, Jen pleaded guilty and now faces 14 years in prison – and an additional $9 million in restitution payments. Her plea involved the court agreeing to forfeit another $6.5 million. According to legal commentator and former L.A. Deputy District Attorney Emily D. Baker, Coach Shah could be legally responsible for footing the bill if Jen is unable to pay.
"First, the forfeiture. The forfeiture allows for substituting of assets. So, any assets that she owns can be forfeited to the government to cover that $6.5 million in forfeiture," Baker told PEOPLE Magazine, explaining how the ordeal typically works in such cases. "That also depends on how much they took when they did the search warrant, because they had the right to grab money, property, things like that."
It's possible that Jen has already paid some, noting that her former assistant Stuart Smith, who has also pleaded guilty for their collective business crimes ahead of Jen's plea, turned over some money of his own. Smith turned on Jen months ago, providing the prosecution with mourning evidence on his former boss.
"They also said that for some of it, she could be jointly and separately liable with Stuart depending on if there's restitution. So, it might be a split," Baker added.
"There's a funny sentence in the plea deal that they could be jointly and separately liable together, and that would be very interesting, because that would reduce it," Baker noted. "But if she can't pay, there's not much she can do. It will always be there, and they can garnish any income. If she writes a book, they can garnish that. So, after the forfeiture is done, they can go after any income." That income included Coach Shah's as they have been married since 1994 and as a married couple, they share assets.
He coaches football at the University of Utah. Prior to, he worked as a lawyer for nearly 15 years. Even if Coach filed for divorce, it wouldn't matter at this stage.
"Things that are separate to him, no, but anything [they share as a married couple, yes] — and that can be his income and stuff like that," Baker said. "Most things are going to be considered marital property, so yes. This is their debt. It's in her name, but he's not going to be able to have marital property that's not a potential to be attached for this restitution."