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Beanie Babies founder gets probation

Posted Jan 15, 2014 10:17 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Beanie Babies founder Ty Warner was sentenced on Tuesday to two years of probation for hiding money in a Swiss bank account.

Prosecutors had sought prison time for the 69-year-old Illinois billionaire, who failed to pay taxes of about $5.6 million on the undeclared income. But U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras cited Warner’s charitable works in imposing probation and 500 hours of community service, report the Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg News and the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Warner's private acts of kindness, benevolence and generosity are overwhelming," Kocoras said. “Society will be best served by allowing him to continue his good works.”

In one instance, Warner stopped to ask a stranger for directions as she was trying to raise money to get a stem-cell treatment for her kidney condition. He read her flier and later sent her a $20,000 check, according to the woman’s letter (PDF) to the court. In other instances, employees got huge bonuses. Charities, nonprofits and a local park district got millions of dollars.

Warner has already paid a civil penalty of $53 million and $14 million in back taxes and interest, according to the Bloomberg account. The Sun-Times says the back taxes and interest amount to $27 million.

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