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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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nushnush January 14 2014 at 1:22 PM

Yeah, like a guy with BILLIONS is really going to JAIL. That's reserved for an Hispanic kid who steals a six-pack of Bud! And that is from a Conservative Republican!!!!!

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2 replies
kwhodges nushnush January 14 2014 at 2:26 PM

Bernie Madoff may disagree with you.

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1 reply
Dan da man kwhodges January 14 2014 at 2:33 PM

Bernie took money from the rich, that was the issue there.

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rushyoung nushnush January 14 2014 at 2:34 PM

Good for you, now would be a good time to start realizing that you vote against yourself when you vote for the right, unless you are rich, then, well, you know, all for one, period!

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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

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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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jralbrizio January 14 2014 at 2:49 PM

The US is ******>

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zorro205 January 14 2014 at 2:31 PM


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nephurus January 14 2014 at 2:19 PM

Billionair! Millions to these people are like a single dollar to most people. Yet, they do things that would put them in jail. LOL

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rushyoung January 14 2014 at 2:31 PM

OOOHHHHHHHHH, what a surprise. Anyone that thinks this is okay should be in jail themselves. If this guy was middle class and behind a bit, he could be serving time but not when you're rich, not in this country. We all better start fighting for ourselves and our country before we all end up being the poor begging the rich for crumbs.

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1 reply
clyogi rushyoung January 14 2014 at 2:43 PM

Middle class does not have to worry because Obama doesn't think you should have to pay any taxes.

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rrrprc January 14 2014 at 2:25 PM

Why does this a-hole get off with no jail time when common folks who try to steal a loaf of bread get sent to prison. I only hope they fined him a much bigger sum than he tried to steal from America

Flag Reply +5 rate up
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