New Real Housewives of Salt Lake City cast member Monica Garcia already has a lot to say about Jen Shah, but Meredith Marks has some questions about her claims.
“I had never met Monica until the snowball day, and she came off as high-energy, wanting to have fun,” Meredith, 51, exclusively told Us Weekly on Wednesday, September 6. “She definitely brings a lot of energy, and I was cautiously optimistic.”
What Meredith doesn’t understand, however, is Monica’s assertion that she spoke to a friend in the Secret Service about Jen, 49.
“The first thing that really went through my head — and maybe I’m missing something here — but the first thing that occurred to me is that the Secret Service is not the FBI, and to the best of my knowledge, it’s just presidential security,” Meredith told Us. “And I’m not sure what Jen did that has anything to do with presidential security. So, the whole thing just seemed odd and didn’t add up to me, to be totally honest.”
During the September 5 season 4 premiere, Monica, 40, said that she met Jen long before her 2021 arrest and once “stepped in to help” her after Jen fired one of her assistants. At that point, Jen allegedly offered Monica a way to help her make more money.
“I remember being so weirded out,” Monica recalled. “It was very bizarre. And I have a friend in the Secret Service. And I called him, and he said, ‘Get the f–k away from Jen Shah, she’s going to prison.’ And she was arrested two months later. And that is how I became a witness with the federal government in her trial.”
After initially pleading not guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, Jen changed her plea in July 2022. As a condition of her plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s office dropped the charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Jen was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in January and reported to FPC Bryan in Texas one month later. In March, her sentence was reduced by one year.
Jen’s incarceration means she’s no longer on RHOSLC, but Meredith says her absence isn’t the only thing that makes season 4 different from its predecessors. “The dynamic shifted for sure. I mean, she’s a big personality,” Meredith told Us. “You’re going to see a change, but it wasn’t just just Jen being gone. It was Mary [Cosby] being back, Angie [Katsanevas] being full-time, Monica coming in. It’s a lot of moving parts. So, I don’t know that I can pin down what I would attribute to Jen versus anything else.”
Meredith, for her part, is thrilled to have Mary, 50, back in the fold after her season 2 departure. “Mary brings such a funny element,” she explained. “Mary makes me laugh. I mean, ‘The salad’s spicy?’ Come on, I’m just dying. Just the way she interprets and perceives everything is incredible. It’s fabulous.”
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City airs on Bravo Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi