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Beanie Baby Boo Boo

Photo: Kristine Bellino

This is one tear in the lining of Beanie Babies that may not be so easy to fix.

H. Ty Warner, the creator of the tremendously popular “Beanie Babies,” will be sentenced before a Chicago judge today after pleading guilty to tax evasion last year.

The businessman, philanthropist, and former actor could spend up to five years in prison for not paying taxes on $25 million in income.

Photo: Chris Hondros, Getty Images

Warner, whose father was a toy salesman and his mother a musician, was born in Chicago.  He left the city briefly to pursue an acting career in California.  When he decided to end his acting career he moved back home to Chicago and started working for toy manufacturer Dakin.   He left Dakin (which later became a subsidiary of Applause Inc and is now part of Russ Berrie / Kid Brands) after working there for most of his professional life and started the Beanie Babies franchise.  The rest is history.  The toys became immensely popular and Warner’s net worth quickly rose to more than $2.5 billion.

He never forgot his roots, however.  Known as much now for pleading guilty to tax evasion charges, Warner is also a noted philanthropist.  In addition to Beanie Babies sent to children in need all over the world, Warner has also given hundreds of millions of dollars to charities, foundations, and causes.  Warner has also donated more quietly to individuals in need of assistance.

His defense attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras, the federal judge who will sentence Warner, to take that philanthropy into account.  There is no indication that he will do so, however, as the United States began a crackdown on the holding of offshore tax evasion cases in 2008.

Despite the donations and a tearful apology offered when he pleaded guilty to the charges in October of 2013, many legal analysts say they expect him to spend at least some time in jail.



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