Beanie Baby Creator: Philanthropy Kept Him Out Of Jail?
Beanie Baby creator Ty Warner was recently sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to tax evasion, and prosecutors say the light penalty–which does not include jail time–sends the wrong message about the way the wealthy are treated in a court of law.
Warner pleaded guilty to keeping $25 million in a Swiss bank account away from the prying eyes of the IRS, but Judge Charles Kocoras said that Warner’s generous donations to various charities were a perfect example of why he should remain outside of prison.
“Mr. Warner’s private acts of kindness, generosity, and benevolence are overwhelming. Never have I had a defendant in any case … demonstrate the level of humanity and concern for the welfare of others as has Mr. Warner,” Kocaras said in January.
Prosecutors disagree, saying that his charitable contributions should not automatically equal a lesser sentence, especially since it will affect future cases wherein attorneys will argue the same defense.
“It was unreasonable for the district court to rely so heavily on Warner’s charity. A defendant’s acts of charity cannot ‘trump’ his criminal conduct, absent truly exceptional circumstances not present here,” reads the appeal.
Included in the filing is an estimate of Warner’s true contribution amount, which doesn’t include Beanie Baby donations. Outside of the toys, they say, he only actually donated about $36 million.
“Warner is no Robin Hood. His past charitable contributions were not so extraordinary, in light of his wealth, that they qualify as ‘a get-out-of-jail card,'” they say.
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