Attorneys and Former Inmates Weigh in as Jen Shah Surrenders


The sh just got real for former Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah as she surrendered to the Federal Bureau of Prisons just a few hours ago to begin serving her six-and-a-half-year sentence.  As we speak, Shah 49, is currently getting "processed" being ordered to strip and she begins to serve her time at the Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas, which is a minimum-security facility for women.



FPC Byran is located about 100 miles northeast of Austin and 100 miles northwest of Houston. The 37-acre campus is often described as a “cushy” prison, and it is inhabited by another famous inmate, disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.


At FPC Bryan, Shah will reportedly have to share a bunk with another inmate and will have access to commissary items such as toiletries, soups and gourmet snacks. The Bravolebrity’s attorney told Page Six ahead of her surrendering to prison, “Jen Shah’s resolve to make her victims whole and to turn her life around is unyielding. “She is committed to serving her sentence with courage and purpose, fueled by her desire to make amends for the hurt she has caused and to help others in her new community,” lawyer Priya Chaudry continued.


After processing, which can take entire day, Shah’s life will no longer mirror her exaggerated Real Housewives persona. First, there are all the rules to follow, a concept that Bravo viewers know Shah is not too fond of. And there will be lots of them — some written, others simply understood — and a strict pecking order from which Shah can’t stray, former federal inmates and a longtime criminal defense attorney tell Vulture. Here is everything you need to know about what (a costly) time behind bars might be like for Shah. Jen Shah’s celebrity doesn’t mean better treatment in prison. Fame can be perilous for inmates, explained Murray Richman, a longtime New York City criminal defense lawyer who has represented many celebrity clients, including the late rapper DMX. If a celebrity inmate is wealthy, Richman explained, “some of the inmates will lean on them for some benefits — if they have money, they’re going to be leaned on.”


Jacqueline Polverari, a former federal inmate who now works to help formerly incarcerated women, voiced similar views, adding, “I think they’re going to extort her.” Plus, the presence of contraband cell phones presents a unique financial opportunity for other inmates. “Every woman is going to try to get pictures of her so they can sell them,” Polverari said. While shakedowns are common, celebrities can find some relief if they use their status to lift other inmates up, by teaching courses, for example, and forging what can best be described as alliances. “If this woman has any brains at all, she will work toward helping other inmates and getting somebody to watch out for her,” Richman said.


The prison guards will treat her a certain way, too. “It’s difficult because they do get treated differently — not better but worse, because, I believe, correctional officers want to make sure everyone knows they are not treating her better,” Polverari said. Guards, or correctional officers, might also want things from Shah, like an autograph or a connection to someone in the entertainment world, Richman said.


Former Trump attorney turned convicted rat Michael Cohen, who served three years behind bars, counted Fyre Festival fraudster Billy McFarland and Jersey Shore alum and fellow tax-cheat Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino as his neighbors in prison. He told the media that there is no preferential treatment for famous people; in fact, it works the opposite way most of the time.  “In my specific case, many of the correctional officers whom we called "red beards", were major Trump fans, and they found it enjoyable to interfere in my day any way they could,” Cohen said. “I don’t suspect she will have the same scenario as I did, as Housewives is not a political show.” He added: “I’m sure that she is going to be fine in that the show is universally enjoyable and it’s not political, which brings out anger and hatred by people with opposing views.”


As for Mike Sorrentino, he fared better with the correction officers, Cohen said, because "they were major Jersey Shore fans, and so he was certainly given more latitude than I.”   Jen Shah’s larger-than-life personality will have to be toned down a lot.  He continued, “If she acts like a reality-TV-show prima donna, she’s going to be treated very badly ... let’s face it, she’s going to have to get a protector in there. She’s going to have to get somebody who’s gonna watch out for her back, and that may be costly.” In exchange for protection, this person might want Shah to put money in their commissary account, buy them cigarettes, or send funds to a family member.


“This chick is arrogant,” said Larry Levine, a former federal inmate who founded Wall Street Prison Consultants, which helps defendants navigate federal prison when they are incarcerated. “She’s going to think she’s better than the other inmates, and she’s going to find out real quick: No one is going to give a shit who she is.” She should not expect the cosmetic comforts of home. p items from the commissary. “Visitation is the only time she’s going to care about what she looks like, really,” Polverari said. “She’ll have someone tailor her uniform so it’s tight on her.” Shah won’t be able to get these things on charm alone, though. “These people that are doing the cosmetology for her, if you will, they’re going to expect to be paid,” Levine said. “There’s no fucking free lunch.”


Ahead of turning herself in, Shah underwent a mini transformation by getting two large tattoos on each of her forearms. Being of Tongan and Hawaiian descent, Shah got the word “Keiki”, the Hawaiian term for “baby” or “child”, on one arm and her husband and sons’ names on the other.