Billionaire Ty Warner dodges jail sentence

Jan. 14, 2014 at 2:54 PM
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CHICAGO, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- A Chicago judge sentenced billionaire Ty Warner, creator of Beanie Babies, to 500 hours of community service and two years probation for tax evasion.

"Society will best be served by allowing him to continue to do his good works," said U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras, a reference to Warner's charity donations and generous personal gestures that were spelled out in papers asking for a lenient sentence.

The judge ordered him to do community work for three Chicago high schools. He also ordered a fine of $100,000, the Justice Department said.

Warner, 69, pleaded guilty to tax evasion after his name was given to U.S. authorities by Swiss bank UBS.

The billionaire paid a $53 million penalty and $16 million in back taxes, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday.

The Justice Department said Warner hid $24.4 million in assets from tax authorities.

Warner's plea for leniency described a troubled childhood in which he was largely responsible for his mother's treatment for mental health issues. The plea also included 70 letters of support, many describing Warner as a generous friend and employer.

Warner attorney Gregory Scandaglia also noted the majority of tax-evaders prosecuted for hiding assets at UBS received lenient treatment.

Scandaglia detailed an account of one woman who was sentenced to 5 seconds probation, the newspaper said.

Prosecutors had pressed for at least a year behind bars.

"Either he dodged more than $5,000,000 in taxes out of greed, or he had some reason to hide the source of the moneys, which funded his Swiss accounts," the prosecutors wrote.

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