Mt. Vernon Register-News

Top News

February 13, 2014

U.S. appeals tax sentence for beanie baby maker

CHICAGO — The Justice Department Thursday appealed the sentence of H. Ty Warner, the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies plush toys who got probation, not prison, for evading taxes on money hidden in a Swiss bank account.

Warner faced 46 months to 57 months in prison under nonbinding guidelines when he was sentenced Jan. 14 by U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras in Chicago. Prosecutors, who urged Kocoras to impose some prison time on Warner, Thursday asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago to review his sentence.

Kocoras sentenced Warner, the founder of toymaker Ty Inc. and Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts, to two years of probation and 500 hours of community service. Warner pleaded guilty to evading almost $5.6 million in taxes on more than $24.4 million in undeclared income on accounts that held as much as $107 million.

Warner's evasion was the largest of more than 100 filed in a five-year crackdown against taxpayers and enablers who used offshore accounts to cheat the Internal Revenue Service. Prosecutors are concerned that his sentence will affect others around the country, said Bryan Skarlatos, a tax attorney at Kostelanetz & Fink in New York not involved in the case.

 "The case is important for the Justice Department because it's a very large account and a high-profile defendant, and prosecutors are obviously disappointed that they couldn't get a term of incarceration," said Skarlatos. They fear "that other defendants at sentencing will cite the Ty Warner case in arguing that they shouldn't go to prison," he said.

Warner's attorney Gregory Sandaglia didn't immediately return a call seeking comment on the appeal. Spokesman Eric Herman declined to comment.

Chicago U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon filed the one-sentence notice of appeal with the appeals court.

Last year, Peter Troost, a grave-marker and monument maker, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison by a judge in the same Chicago courthouse. Troost admitted he evaded taxes on more than $3.3 million in income.

Lawyers for Warner, who has a net worth of $1.7 billion, argued that he deserved leniency because of his charitable contributions. They cited his donation of $140 million in cash and toys to charities.

Before sentencing Warner, the judge read letters from supporters describing some of the billionaire's charitable deeds for schools, a kidney dialysis patient, Ty Inc. salesmen and his local park district.

"Society will be best served by allowing him to continue his good works," Kocoras concluded.

Warner's lawyers said he sought entry in an IRS voluntary disclosure program that has attracted more than 43,000 taxpayers who avoided prosecution since 2009. Prosecutors said he didn't apply to the program until learning the government knew of his conduct.

Warner paid a civil penalty of $53 million and filed amended tax returns for the years 1999 to 2008, his lawyers said. He has also paid $14 million in back taxes and interest, according to prosecutors.

 From 1996 to 2008, Warner parked money at UBS in Switzerland and then at Zuercher Kantonalbank, failing to disclose those holdings to his own accountants, according to court papers. By 2008, the balance of his undisclosed account exceeded $107 million, prosecutors said.

 

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 14, 2014

  • 25801486.jpg VIDEO: Northern California bus crash kills 10

    At least nine people died in Northern California on Thursday night, in an accident involving a bus, a car and FedEx truck. The bus was filled with high school students from Southern California who were on their way to visit a college campus.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: CBS taps Colbert as Letterman’s Late Show successor

    Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman reports that CBS has announced Stephen Colbert as its choice to replace the retiring David Letterman as host of “The Late Show” on Bloomberg Television’s “Lunch Money.”

     

    April 10, 2014

  • Teen stabs 20 at Pittsburgh-area high school

    MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Flailing away with two knives, a 16-year-old boy with a "blank expression" stabbed and slashed 19 students and a police officer in the crowded halls of his suburban Pittsburgh high school Wednesday before an assistant principal tackled him.

    April 9, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 8, 2014

  • 297px-Starbucks_Corporation_Logo_2011.svg.png Why Starbucks won't recycle your paper coffee cup

    When you drop that used white paper cup into the bin next to the door at a Starbucks, have you done your part to save the planet? Starbucks has long hoped that you would think so. After all, there's no better way to attract an affluent, eco-conscious clientele than to convince customers that your disposable product is "renewable."

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don't blame voters for low turnout

    Suppose nobody votes this year. On Nov. 4 the doors to the polling places are thrown open, and there isn't anyone in line. No absentee ballots are filed. No one litigates, charging either fraud or discrimination, because there weren't any voters.
    It won't happen. But if it did, pundits and activists would surely blame public apathy for such a catastrophe. I'd name a different culprit: the major parties, their candidates and their acolytes in the news media.

    April 4, 2014

  • Former McDonald's store managers say they withheld employees' wages

    Two former McDonald's store managers, assisting with a campaign to raise pay for fast-food workers, said they helped withhold employees' wages at the restaurant chain after facing pressure to keep labor costs down.

    April 2, 2014

AP Video