Two Guilford women charged in the Shoreline Gifting Table scheme were found guilty Wednesday by a jury following a trial in U.S. District Court in New Haven, ctnow.com reports.
A federal jury Wednesday convicted two women of running a pyramid-style financial conspiracy in the form of "gifting tables" clubs. Jill Platt, 65, and Donna Bello, 56, both of Guilford, were found guilty of wire fraud and filing false tax returns. The government said they failed to report profits from an illegal scheme in which members paid $5,000 to join with the chance to make $40,000 by recruiting new members.
The New Haven Register reported Wednesday that closing arguments from prosecutors focused on the assertion that Bello and Plant intended to deceive both participants and the Internal Revenue Service. Defense attorneys argued otherwise:
Defense attorney Norm Pattis, who represents Bello, ... threw in some criticism of the country’s income tax laws, while calling the tables “a geriatric sorority.” “The government thinks Donna Bello and Jill Platt are criminals. … I guess we no longer have to worry about gangsters in pinstripes. We now have gangsters with Gucci bags trying to keep their money,” Pattis said. Bello and Platt didn’t hide the fact that some questioned table legality and encouraged table participants to speak to accountants or attorneys or refer to IRS laws on gifting, Pattis said. He added that trial witnesses couldn’t answer whether it was a taxable gift if someone gives a gift to another person and expects a return from a different individual as a result.