Beanie Babies founder Ty Warner pleads guilty

Ty Warner, creator of Beanie Babies.
October 2, 2013 3:30:44 PM PDT
Beanie Babies founder Ty Warner pleaded guilty to a tax evasion charge in one of the biggest cases to come from the government's newfound ability to get Swiss bankers to talk about their clients.

Warner, 69, admitted to hiding millions of dollars in overseas accounts. The college dropout who built a billion-dollar business in west suburban Westmont got choked up when he came face-to-face with a federal judge in court Wednesday.

"I apologize for my conduct," Warner said. "There's no excuse for these actions. I am pleading guilty because I am guilty."

Warner's tax troubles began 4,400 miles from Chicago in Zurich, Switzerland.

Warner keeps a relatively low-profile for someone on Forbes' list of richest Americans. He said nothing to reporters after a difficult day in court.

In 1996, just as the Beanie Babies crazy was in full froth, Warner opened a Swiss bank account. He admits to secretly stashing money there for ten years, and at one point the account held $107 million.

Prosecutors said Warner failed to report more than $24 million in income. It would have cost him $5 million in taxes. Ironic, considering Forbes puts Warner's current worth at $2.6 billion. He's number 209 on the magazine's list of richest Americans.

"I became a great success with the Ty company, I had so much to be thankful for," Warner said in court as he choked back emotion. The judge stopped the confessional by saying, "there will be time to bare your soul."

That time for confession will come in January when Warner is sentenced. He faces a maximum of five years in prison. He's likely to get a shorter sentence because of his guilty plea.

Warner will also pay the government $53 million, which is about two-percent of worth.


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