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

in Entertainment

This weekend in entertainment history

rainman

A look back on some of Hollywood's most memorable headlines.

in Local Sports

Royals shut down Mariners

Seattle Mariners' Nelson Cruz gets ready to bat during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the San Diego Padres Thursday, March 5, 2015, in Peoria, Ariz.

Kansas City's Ventura holds Seattle to one-hit game in 5-1 victory

in Sports

Louisville and Michigan State on to Elite 8

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino gestrues to his team during the second half of an NCAA tournament college basketball game against UC Irvine in the Round of 64 in Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2015. Louisville beat UC Irvine 57-55.

Montrezl Harrell scored 24 points/Denzel Valentine scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half

in Sports

Gonzaga and Duke headed to Elite Eight

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few watches during a practice session for a college basketball regional semifinal game in the NCAA Tournament Thursday, March 26, 2015, in Houston. Gonzaga plays UCLA on Friday, March 27, 2015.

Przemek Karnowski had 18 points and nine rebounds/Justise Winslow 21 points and 10 rebound