He didn’t plead the fifth! During a CNN sit-down, Andy Cohen got flustered and stumbled over his response when asked why he initially took Jen Shah’s “side” in her fraud case.
“You’re on the record last November as saying that you hope she would get no jail time,” Chris Wallace questioned the Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen host, 54, during the interview, which aired on Sunday, January 15. “And the question I have is: Why would you take her side against the thousands of people she defrauded, including a lot of elderly?”
Cohen, who scrunched up his face while trying to think back, replied, “I think that I was hoping she was actually innocent.”
Wallace, 75, fired back, “She pleaded guilty!”
The Bravo star attempted to correct the veteran journalist by pointing out that he said that before the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star pleaded guilty — “I think,” Cohen said — but Wallace noted it was after.
“Oh, really? Oh, God,” Cohen cringed, laughing. “Wow, this is fun.”
Shah, 49, and her assistant, Stuart Smith, were arrested in March 2021 while RHOSLC cameras were rolling. The two were booked on conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss claimed in a press release at the time that the duo “allegedly generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam.” HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh posited that Shah and Smith “built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people.”
Though Shah initially pleaded not guilty to the charges and maintained her innocence on season 2 of RHOSLC, she later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in July 2022. “I knew this was wrong. I knew many people were harmed and I’m so sorry,” the reality star said in a statement to the judge at the time, per Good Morning America.
Four months later, in November 2022, Cohen exclusively told Us Weekly that he didn’t “know what to say to people who want her on the show … I hope that she gets no jail time whatsoever and she can come right back” for season 4 of RHOSLC.
In his CNN interview, the Real Housewives executive producer clarified the context of his comments, explaining he was asked about her “status with the show.”
Cohen, who acknowledged to Wallace that Shah “[did something bad] and should go to jail,” added, “I think I was saying, ‘Look, you know, sometimes you get to know someone and you get to like them, you hope they are not guilty of something horrible.’”
Earlier this month, Shah was sentenced to six and a half years in prison with five years of supervised release. She must report to prison by February 17.