In an unusual turn of events, Beanie Babies founder Ty Warner was shown mercy by a federal judge on Tuesday after being sentenced to two years of probation for failing to pay income taxes on millions of dollars he hid in an offshore Swiss bank account. U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras read letters of support that he'd received from Warner's many allies detailing his charitable works and acts of kindness, while prosecutors rolled their eyes, unimpressed.
"Warner's private acts of kindness, benevolence and generosity are overwhelming," Kocoras said.
Warner, dressed in a dark blue suit, was also sentenced to 500 hours of community service. Prior to his sentencing, Warner stood and apologized for his mistake, saying that the outpouring of support only amplified his "shame and embarrassment."
"Unfortunately, I never realized that the biggest mistake (I) ever made in my life would cost me the respect that was most important to me," Warner said, reading written statements in a solemn tone, "For all of this, your honor, I am truly sorry."
Prosecutors had hoped to see Warner sentenced to prison, though they did not specify a certain number of years, they asked Kocoras to "give serious consideration" to sentencing guidelines that call for 46 to 57 months behind bars.
While not overly excited after the hearing, U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon told reporters that prosecutors "held Mr. Warner accountable by bringing this case to court" and he will carry the reputation of a convicted felon for the rest of his life.
Warner's attorney, Gregory Scandaglia, said that Mr. Warner was humbled by the ruling.
"The judge heard from many people who have benefited from Ty's quiet generosity over the years, and he crafted a sentence that allows Ty to continue to make amends in a way that most benefits society," Scandaglia said.