SALT LAKE CITY — The criminal cases against a pair of members of the "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" reality show are moving forward.
A federal judge refused to throw out the criminal indictment against Jen Shah after her lawyers complained of a pair of Homeland Security agents participating in a recent Hulu documentary about the case. They argued that the appearances and publicity of the documentary interfered with her right to a fair trial.
"The Government’s conduct here has eradicated Ms. Shah’s right to a fair trial with an untainted jury pool," Shah's attorney, Priya Chaudhry, wrote in a letter to the judge.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York countered by pointing to Shah's TV appearances.
"The circumstances of the defendant’s arrest have already been the subject of widespread publicity by a television show on which the defendant was a cast member at the time of her arrest and on which she has continued to participate since her arrest, without any apparent concern that additional publicity of the circumstances of her arrest and the allegations against her may affect her ability to receive a fair trial," prosecutors said to the judge.
U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein rejected Shah's request to dismiss the indictment.
"Nonetheless, given the televised comments of the HSI agents as well as Shah's well-documented media appearances, all parties are reminded of the provisions of Local Crim. R. 23.1 and directed to comply fully with its terms," Judge Stein said, referencing the rule about disclosure of non-public information or opinion that might interfere with a defendant's right to a fair trial.
Shah has pleaded not guilty to federal fraud charges in what prosecutors allege was a large-scale telemarking scheme that bilked people out of millions of dollars.
Her assistant, Stuart Smith, recently pleaded guilty to charges.
Shah is set to face trial in New York in March.
Meanwhile, the criminal case against Mary Cosby has been set for trial.
She and her son, Robert Cosby Jr., are facing misdemeanor charges of providing unlawful shelter to a runaway and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Court records show that a two-day trial began in February during an appearance in Salt Lake City Justice Court.
"The charges sound sinister, but the reality of the situation is much different," Robert Cosby Jr.'s lawyer, Clayton Simms, told FOX 13 in October. "It’s simply a case where Robert’s girlfriend’s mother didn’t want him hanging out, so she called the police. Rather than the Salt Lake City Department focusing on real crime, they’re turning into the relationship police. The basis of this case is just a misunderstanding. We think there’s absolutely no merit to the case."
If convicted, the Cosbys could face a fine.
Ben Winslow at KSTU first reported this story.