Gifting Table

Jill Platt, left, and Donna Bello, right, face sentencing Monday after a federal jury convicted the two women in February of running a pyramid-style financial conspiracy in the form of a "gifting table" club. (Fox CT / August 2, 2013)

"All I was doing was making a connection," she said.

Midgley testified there was friction in group and that when some members reached the top, others stepped off the table because they didn't want to provide money to that person.

According to a grand jury indictment, Bello — identified by federal prosecutors as "the ringleader" of the scheme — wrote in a 2009 email to club participants that more than 70 women made it to the top levels of the club, most of them more than once and more than 20 of them six times or more. The email also said that more than $5 million had changed hands.

The indictment said new members who donated money were told that the funds were tax-free gifts under the Internal Revenue Service code.

On Monday, Walker testified that Bello inquired about whether Walker would be interested in participating, at one point writing in an email that "your name can stay anonymous. Guess you'll have to trust me."

Bello said that the initial contribution was $5,000 and that the return was $40,000 at the end of the process, Walker testified. She testified Bello told her the returns were in cash.