In a message from prison, Jen Shah is detailing how difficult it was to say goodbye to her family for the next six-and-a-half years.
While in lock up at the Bryan Federal Prison Camp in Texas, the “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” alum wrote about her final moments of freedom, saying she had “an anxiety attack” just before surrendering to officials.
“I could not breathe and my hands went numb,” Jen, who’s serving a prison sentence for fraud, wrote in a March 9 Instagram message, which was posted by her husband Sharrieff Shah.
The reality TV star recalled FaceTiming her oldest son, Sharrieff Jr., on her way to prison as he reassured her “it would be okay.”
“I didn’t think I’d make it through the day,” she said. “My worst fear and the unimaginable was about to happen — having to say goodbye to my sweet husband and precious baby Omar.”
From there, the 49-year-old said everything “happened so fast” and she was emotional in saying goodbye to her family, including Sharrieff. “I turned to embrace him; hugging him as if holding him harder would somehow erase this horrible nightmare.”
Prison officials, she said, continued to urge her to move along, although they let her fit in a few final moments.
“It’s as if you know your world is ending and you have 30 seconds to tell the people you love how much you love them and hope they feel your love and understand its magnitude,” Jen said, adding that she felt “so alone” as she walked away from the son and husband, both of whom were crying as she was.
“I am truly scared,” she said before concluding, “I feel physically sick. I feel like I don’t belong here. I thought I could do this but I’ve decided I can’t. I want to go home right now, but I know that is impossible. Please Allah help me, please.”
Jen surrendered on Feb. 17, seven months after she pleaded guilty in connection with a telemarketing fraud scheme that prosecutors said preyed on the elderly.
The Bravo-lebrity was arrested on March 30, 2021 for her involvement in the scheme. Authorities alleged that Jen and her assistant, Stuart Smith, ripped off hundreds of victims across the country, mainly elderly people, by encouraging them to invest in shady online projects and selling them nonexistent business services for years. They are alleged to have complied lists of “leads,” who were people previously exploited, as they were believed to be easier targets. They would then sell the list and take a cut of the profits. The practice, authorities said, was going on for nine years.
A federal judge sentenced Jen to six-and-a-half years behind bars.
Homeland Security Investigations Agency said in a statement after the arrest that Jen and Stuart “built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people.”