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Beanie Babies creator gets probation, no prison

CHICAGO (AP) -- The billionaire creator of Beanie Babies was sentenced to two years of probation, but no prison time, on Tuesday for tax evasion on $25 million in income he had stashed away in Swiss bank accounts.

H. Ty Warner, 69, appeared somber but composed as he made a brief statement before receiving his sentence in a Chicago federal courtroom, apologizing and saying he felt "shame and embarrassment" for what he had done.

He could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison, and prosecutors were seeking prison time for Warner, who pleaded guilty last year to a single tax evasion count.

U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras, however, sentenced Warner to probation and 500 hours of community service, praising the toy magnate for the charity work he's done.

Kocoras said his decision was difficult, but he added, "Society will be better served by allowing him to continue his good works."

The judge said Warner's "public humiliation" and "private torment" as a result of his criminal prosecution was a punishment he's already paid.

Warner was among the highest-profile prosecutions in the federal government's push to go after Americans concealing income from the IRS overseas, often in Switzerland. Prosecutors say at one point, Warner was concealing as much as $107 million.

Beanie Babies first appeared in the mid-1990s, triggering a craze that generated hundreds of millions of dollars for Westmont, Ill.-based TY Inc., of which Warner is the sole owner. Forbes recently put his net worth at $2.6 billion.

The small, plush toys have heart-shaped name tags and are made to resemble bears and other animals. Some are designed to look like cartoon or comic book characters. As collectibles, some fetch thousands of dollars.

Warner maintained a secret offshore account starting in 1996 with the Switzerland-based financial services company UBS. He earned $3.1 million in gross income in 2002 through the account, but didn't report it, prosecutors say.

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poetess_13 January 14 2014 at 7:09 PM

Well here's yet another piece of evidence that all you need to break the law & get away with it is money and/or fame...Whoopie another great American freedom we all can't afford....bleh!

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Paul January 14 2014 at 6:49 PM

After reading the story twice,there was no mention of a big fat fine plus the taxes owed.WTF ?????

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backdoc301 January 14 2014 at 6:43 PM

He should not get jail time!! They let murderers, child molesters and rapists run free. Fine him and be done with it already!

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allmanartist January 14 2014 at 6:39 PM

It's not his fault; it's not any of their faults. #Affluenza

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billatlan January 14 2014 at 6:32 PM

Chicago...the best justice money can buy!

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dwain January 14 2014 at 5:20 PM

So, I am now collecting letters attesting to my good works and generally being a nice guy so that when I stop paying my taxes and can later express my regret, I too will be able to enjoy my probation.

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cat January 14 2014 at 5:20 PM

Excuse me, people; the man paid 52 million in penalties. Isn't that enough for you? Warner has
used his money to create beauty, fun and to help needly people in many ways. Why don't you
nasty harpies just shut your stupid mouths. What have any of you done for the world? Even with
limited means, one can still share with others as Warner has done with his large fortune. He did
something wrong and he paid a big fine for it. You are like those awful people who cheered at
each strike of the Guillotine during the French revolution.

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2 replies to cat's comment
redliontat January 14 2014 at 5:51 PM

Let me knit and shout :eat the rich.

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vegas von January 14 2014 at 6:43 PM

Absolutely well said! Totally agree!

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sindfetish January 14 2014 at 5:19 PM

A billionaire avoids jail? NOOOO!

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Jim Kolbe January 14 2014 at 5:04 PM

The comments are overwhelmingly "the rich get richer" but the federal judge did say he had difficulty with his decision and was moved by Warner's professed "private torment." What I'm having difficulty with is this: $two and half billion and you have to cheat the US, which caused your windfall in the first place, out of $100 plus million over six years at least (so it wasn't a spur of the moment one time offense but calculated) Warner would have to convince me with extremely generous "good deeds" and I'm still not sure what I'd do.

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hfrew1949 January 14 2014 at 4:49 PM


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