Weeks after Jen was sentenced to serve 6.5 years behind bars for her role in a telemarketing scheme that targeted elderly victims, Penny discussed the embarrassment she felt and the “dark days” she endured as she reacted to Jen’s sentencing and revealed what she’d tell the reality star if given the chance.
“I thought, ‘How stupid,’ you know, ‘You are a stupid idiot.’ I was embarrassed,” Penny admitted on the January 29 episode of Behind the Velvet Rope With David Yontef. “They know how to manipulate you.”
While Penny initially kept her failed business dealings between herself and her husband, she ultimately told one of her kids, who wished she’d come to them sooner. Looking back, Penny said she thought she could handle the scheme alone.
“I thought, you know, ‘I’m a big girl, I can handle this.’ … I thought, ‘Well … People are gonna think I’m stupid because I let them take advantage of me like that,'” she explained. “I had a lot of dark days. There was a lot of days that I’d cry all day thinking, ‘How am I gonna get all this money back?'”
Even today, Penny is scarred by what she went through.
“I don’t trust anybody. They took that away. It takes a lot for me to let somebody in,” she shared.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever have complete closure because it’s always gonna be in the back of my mind. You know, people are cruel. There’s ulterior motives on a lot of these people and you gotta figure out if they’re true blue or if they got ulterior motives. And I always thought that I was a good judge of character and so that makes me question, you know, my whole question, everything … It leaves such a deep impact,” she noted.
According to Penny, she didn’t know who Jen was before she was featured in ABC News Studio’s The Housewife and the Shah Shocker, which premiered on Hulu in 2021.
“I don’t watch those Housewives shows … They’re just kind of silly to me … I hadn’t ever heard of the one in Salt Lake City. And I had never heard of Jen Shah,” she stated.
Penny then expressed frustration with the idea that Jen doesn’t have to pay her $6.6 million restitution back immediately.
“Why aren’t they making her liquidate her assets to pay all these people back?” Penny wondered. “She said she’d pay everybody back after she got out. Well, she could get rid of some of that stuff. She doesn’t need a big luxury house. She can live in a regular house like the rest of us.”
“I don’t think she’ll follow through. She’s not gonna do without,” she added.
Penny also noted that she wasn’t satisfied with Jen’s sentence, saying the RHOSLC cast member “probably needed more time for what she’d done.”
“I got angry because here she had this huge house, had lived off of everybody’s money, had all of this stuff and she gets to keep it all. And there were people that actually even lost their homes from her scams and [were] homeless. So where’s the justice actually, where is the justice in all of it?” she asked, noting that she and her husband had “to refinance our house” to pay off their credit card debt.
“I would be more than a little angry cuz here she’s living high on the hog and everybody else that she took advantage of isn’t. They’re struggling,” Penny continued.
Although Jen will soon begin her sentence, potentially in Texas, Penny doesn’t believe her sentence is “long enough.”
“I would’ve thought that it would’ve should’ve been a lot more, especially to the extent that she had done it and for the number of years it should’ve been at least double the number of years that she scammed people for,” Penny explained.
And she isn’t so sure she’ll learn her lesson either.
“I’d like to think so. She’s not gonna have her Gucci and all that, so I don’t imagine that it’s gonna be very luxurious, luxurious living,” Penny said. “So maybe if she has to live in not-so-good conditions, maybe she’ll appreciate what she had and maybe have some compassion on the people that she scammed. You can always hope, you know, you can always hope that something changes in her heart.”
As for whether or not Jen is truly sorry for the crimes she committed over the course of several years, Penny isn’t convinced.
“She’s used to being a drama queen, you know, on the Housewives … So I have trouble thinking that she’s empathetic to what she did,” Penny noted. “I think it’s all a show.”
Also during the podcast, when asked what she’d say to Jen if she called her, Penny said, “I would probably ask her, ‘What were you thinking? You know, didn’t you realize you were gonna hurt these people? That you were gonna impact their livelihood at some point? Because they didn’t have that money to throw away. They were looking to make some money, not throw it away.'”
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City season three reunion concludes Wednesday, February 1, at 8/7c on Bravo.