'Murder on Middle Beach' Preview: Who is Donna Bello? HBO docuseries sheds light on Barbara Hamburg's killing
In 2016, three years after the first conviction, the operations once again came under suspicion after which Donna Bello and Jill Platt, got sentenced
HBO's murder docuseries, 'Murder on Middle Beach', unveils a series of events that happened to a Connecticut, mother of two, who was brutally murdered on March 3, 2010. Barbara Hamburg was beaten and stabbed to death in front of her house in Madison, Connecticut. The murder still remains a mystery as no one has been charged for it yet. But there are a number of theories suggesting who would have killed Hamburg. One such theory suggests that her murder was somehow involved with the mysterious multi-level marketing (MLM) type of scheme known as "Gifting Tables", of which she was a member. The scheme was led by then 54-years-old Donna Bello.
MLM usually work by having their members sell their products and recruits others to do the same, with those recruiters earning a share of their recruits' sales, all the way to the top of the pyramid. Like each purchase benefits everyone in that pyramid. "Gifting Tables" was not technically an MLM, as members were not selling any products but were actually "gifting" large sums of money, in order to join, and then recruiting more people so that they themselves could eventually receive their own "gifts". The main aim of this scheme was to effectively offer a way to earn nontaxable income and Bello recruited only women for the scheme. A pyramid structure with eight members was created, and every member was supposed to join with an entry fee of $5,000. Everyone in the pyramid was benefitted by some amount whenever there was a new joiner.
In 2013, three years after Hamburg's murder, she was convicted for organizing, a "Gifting Tables" pyramid scheme, which according to Federal authorities, duped more than a thousand Connecticut women, including Hamburg, out of millions of dollars. In 2016, three years after the first conviction, the operations once again came under suspicion after which Donna Bello and Jill Platt, got sentenced. Bello was sentenced to 48 months, while Platt was prisoned for 30 months.
A Hartford Courant report described Bello saying, "She says she has battled cervical cancer, tuberculosis, mental health issues and thoughts of suicide, and also mourned the loss of her baby grandson. She has struggled to save her 13-year marriage to Joel Schiavone, a well-known developer and former Republican mayoral candidate in New Haven, and to regain her standing in the social circles that once embraced her as lavish-party host support, she says, that has since "evaporated".
It is still not known if "Gifting Tables" scheme played a role in Hamburg's murder. Watch the second episode on Sunday, November 22, at 10 pm ET.