Ex-reality TV cast member gets 1-year term in fraud case
NEW YORK (AP) — A former cast member of the reality TV series “Bad Girls Club” was sentenced to a year in prison for stealing the debit card information of a man found dead from a drug overdose in his Manhattan apartment the morning after hiring her as a prostitute in 2017.
Shannade Clermont — appearing in federal court Manhattan with her twin sister — received the sentence after tearfully expressing remorse and asking for mercy.
“I take responsibility for my shameful actions,” Clermont told U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald. “Words can’t explain the sorrow I have in my heart.”
Clermont, 25, appeared on the Oxygen network’s reality series “Bad Girls Club” in 2015 along with her sister, amassing a large social media following along the way. The twins have also appeared in music videos and have modeled for Kanye West’s Yeezy brand, appearing in the Yeezy Season 6 campaign.
The defendant wasn’t charged in the death of a victim identified by police as James Alesi, and Buchwald said she didn’t care that she engaged in prostitution. But the judge criticized her for not seeking help when the victim passed out while she was with him — the result of what his family says was an accidental fatal overdose from cocaine laced with fentanyl.
“When faced with a real test of character, you chose to steal his debit card information,” the judge said.
Prosecutors alleged that after Clermont left, she sought to use the dead man’s credit to pay rent, phone bills and for an expensive wardrobe. The victim’s family eventually discovered the fraud while sorting out his estate.
“On Jan. 31, 2017, my brother died and she went shopping,” the victim’s sister said at the sentencing, declining to give her name.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman insisted his client didn’t bear any responsibility for the man’s death, claiming she “had no idea he was in any kind of distress.”
The judge responded: “I’m not sure I totally agree with you because I don’t know what happened in the 3 ½ hours she was in the apartment. . Had she decided before she left to call 911, we don’t know what would have happened.”