News

No prison time for Beanie Babies creator in tax evasion

No prison time for Beanie Babies creator in tax evasion

BEANIE BAD GUY: The billionaire creator of Beanie Babies, Ty Warner, could face up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in Chicago federal court on Tuesday on his guilty plea for tax evasion. Photo: Associated Press

Ty Warner
In this Feb 16, 2003 file photo, Ty Warner, Beanie Baby creator arrives at the Toy Fair to sign “Decade,” the10th anniversary baby bear in New York. Warner has been charged with federal tax evasion for allegedly failing to report income he earned in a secret offshore financial account. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The billionaire creator of Beanie Babies, Ty Warner, will serve two years of probation, including mentoring high school students, following his guilty plea on a tax evasion charge, but no jail time, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

Warner, 69, who pleaded guilty in October, told U.S. District Court Judge Charles Kocoras in Chicago that he was sorry, and called it the biggest mistake of his life. Warner already had agreed to pay a civil penalty of nearly $53.6 million.

Kocoras cited Warner’s many acts of charity in imposing two years’ probation as requested by his attorneys, rather than the prison term sought by prosecutors.

“Society will be best served by allowing him to continue his good works,” Kocoras said.

Warner, who in 2013 was ranked as the 209th richest American by Forbes, “went to great lengths” to hide from his accountants and the Internal Revenue Service more than $3.1 million in foreign income generated in a secret Swiss bank account, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago.

Beanie Babies, small plush toys sold for $5 to $7, have been popular with collectors. At their peak of popularity in the 1990s, some collectors would pay hundreds of dollars for a rare character on the resale market, according to press accounts.

Warner’s net worth was listed as $2.6 billion in 2013, according to Forbes.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Ken Wills and Gunna Dickson)

Recent Headlines

2 hours ago in Local

Second Arrest Made in Rochester Homicide

Dewon Loman

One of two people that remained wanted after a deadly shooting incident late last month outside Rochester has been taken into custody.

2 hours ago in Local

President Obama’s Visit: The Day After

2-10-16 Obama Springfield

They're not done replaying the game films yet, but those involved in orchestrating Wednesday's presidential visit to Springfield say, for now, it was a fun and positive experience that went well.

2 hours ago in Local

Chicago Woman Charged with Supplying Gun to Niece

gun

Federal prosecutors say a Chicago woman has been indicted on charges that she supplied her 14-year-old niece with the handgun the girl allegedly used to kill another teen during an argument over a boy.

5 hours ago in Local

Par-a-Dice Cuts Staff, Blames Video Gaming

video gambling

Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria has announced announced they are laying off employees amidst a protracted slump in business.

5 hours ago in Local

Jury Sides with Illinois Man in Excessive Force Lawsuit

gavel2

Jurors in southern Illinois have found in a federal civil lawsuit that an Olney man was the victim of excessive force when law enforcement officers stopped him near Benton in April 2012.