The promoter of a local multilevel-marketing company pleaded "absolutely not guilty" Friday in 4th District Court to five counts of promoting a pyramid scheme, third-degree felonies.

Sally Ann Hall, 45, Pleasant Grove, entered the pleas before Judge Cullen Y. Christensen without representation by an attorney. Hall and six other Utahns are accused of promoting a pyramid scheme in connection with their involvement in a company called Family Star. The company was shut down in March by Judge Ray M. Harding pending the outcome of a civil suit filed by the attorney general's office.Prior to reading the complaints, Christensen told Hall the charges against her are serious and asked her if she wanted an attorney appointed to represent her. Hall declined, saying, "if necessary to have a trial I will, but not at this time, Your Honor."

After accepting the pleas and setting a jury trial for July 8, Christensen once again told Hall that he was concerned that she did not realize the seriousness of the charges against her. He ordered public defender Kent Willis be on standby for assistance in case Hall needs help.

"I'm not sure you fully appreciate what you face," Christensen said. "It's like me having plumbing problems and trying to fix them myself. I end up making the problems worse and have to call a plumber anyway."

State investigators allege that Hall and other Family Star officials sold a newsletter for $19.95 that allowed investors to sell the letter to others. Investigators say the company's main purpose was to recruit investors and the products it offered were inconsistent. Family Star officials say the company was shut down before it finished organizing.

Two other defendants in the case, Matthew Peterson, 36, and Neda Peterson, 33, American Fork, will be arraigned May 24. J. Blaine Rupp, 45, and Vickie Rupp, 39, both of Highland; Rulea Brooksby, 43, American Fork; and Gary Ford, 43, Mapleton, have agreed to have their cases continued until the charges against Hall are resolved. Lynn Waite, 45, Meridian, Idaho, has a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 13.

If convicted, Hall could be sentenced to up to five years in prison on each count.