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Beanie Babies creator asks for probation

Jan. 3, 2014 at 10:55 AM   |   Comments

CHICAGO, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Billionaire Ty Warner has requested probation for tax evasion, citing a charitable lifestyle and an unhappy childhood, court records in Chicago show.

Warner, who made a fortune as the creator of Beanie Babies, pleaded guilty to hiding assets from U.S. authorities in a Swiss bank account. He filed papers that said he was the primary caretaker for his mother when he was young. His mother suffered from schizophrenia. His father, court papers say, did very little to help.

Warner's plea to avoid jail also describes the entrepreneur as a generous, charitable person who has paid more than $1 billion in federal taxes over his lifetime and given $140 million to charities since 1995. He has also paid a $53 million penalty, $16 million in back taxes and given $16 million in charitable donations that were never claimed on his tax returns, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.

Warner could get up to five years in prison for one count of tax evasion, the newspaper said.

Court papers say Warner applied for a tax amnesty program that was offered to persons who hid funds abroad, but was turned down.

Warner, 69, opened the Swiss bank account in 1996 and was on a list of 285 potential tax evaders UBS bank gave to the U.S. Justice Department in 2009.

His plea for mercy also includes descriptions of Warner's personal generosity and kindness to employees and others.

When an executive's wife was ill, Warner called twice a day to inquire about her condition and never asked how long the executive would be away from the job, said the testimony of one of his employees.

That employee described Warner as "the most generous, kind and giving person," he has ever known, the newspaper said.

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