Plush Sentence: Beanie Babies Founder Avoids Jail Time
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The mastermind behind Beanie Babies -- a collectible toy line that spawned a billion dollar empire in the 90's -- will not serve time for having stuffed funds into an undeclared Swiss bank account that reportedly netted him $25 million.
Ty Warner, 69, was sentenced this morning by a federal judge in Chicago to two years probation and 500 hours community service. While prosecutors were seeking at least one year behind bars, the judge cited Warner's extensive charity work in reasoning that "society will be best served to allow him to continue his good works," the Wall Street Journal reports.
After having pleaded guilty last fall, Warner coughed up record sums as part of the deal -- $53.6 million in penalties and $27 million in back taxes -- which amounts to the largest fine ever paid for such a crime. And Warner's marks one of the highest profile cases in an ongoing government crackdown regarding undeclared offshore accounts, said the Journal.
While Warner expressed "shame and embarrassment" for his actions before the sentencing, the judge "devoted most of the twenty minutes he spent explaining his sentence praising Warner's charitable work," according to Fox News. For instance, after getting lost driving in California once, Warner "pulled over to a parking lot fundraiser and told a woman with a kidney ailment that he would pay her $20,000 medical bill."