NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — One of three Connecticut women charged with participating in a ‘‘gifting tables’’ pyramid scheme plans to change her not guilty plea, according to court records.
Bettejane Hopkins of Essex is scheduled to appear Oct. 9 in U.S. District Court in Hartford for a change of plea hearing. A message left Wednesday with her attorney was not immediately returned.
The records do not indicate what Hopkins plans to plead guilty to and federal authorities declined to comment.
Hopkins, Donna Bello and Jill Platt, both of Guilford, were indicted on charges including wire fraud and filing false tax returns. The women pleaded not guilty in May.
To join a gifting table, new participants must pay a $5,000 gift to the person occupying the ‘‘dessert’’ position at the top of the pyramid. Participants move through the pyramid from the bottom row, called ‘‘appetizers,’’ to the top by recruiting additional women to join.
When eight new participants join gifting tables at the bottom row, the dessert leaves the table and keeps the $40,000. A gifting table is then split, with two participants occupying the ‘‘entree’’ position on the second row moving to the top position of two new pyramids. The other participants move up a row on one of the two newly formed pyramids and the search for new participants begins, authorities said.
Authorities say the women recruited other participants through meetings, parties and conference calls and misrepresented to recruits that gifting tables were not a pyramid scheme. The scheme ran from 2008 until last year, authorities said.
Authorities said the scheme led to losses of more than $1 million.
Attorneys for Platt and Bello said they plan to proceed to trial. Platt’s attorney, Jonathan J. Einhorn, has said everything she did was legal and based upon the advice of lawyers.
Norman Pattis, Bello’s attorney, denied it was a pyramid scheme.
‘‘No one was tricked into believing they had invested in an asset that did not exist,’’ Pattis wrote in an e-mail. ‘‘No false representations were made about the enterprise.’’