Santa Barbara’s Beanie Baby tycoon, Ty Warner, avoided a jail sentence today when a federal judge in Chicago placed him on probation for two years for hiding millions in a Swiss bank account.
Warner, owner of the Four Seasons Biltmore, San Ysidro Ranch, Montecito Country Club, and other local properties, will have to perform 500 hours of community service. Prosecutors urged a year of jail time, but Warner’s attorneys proposed community service, citing his charity work and unhappy childhood.
Warner had pleaded guilty to tax evasion and promised to pay more than $16 million in back taxes and a $53 million penalty. He could have been sentenced to up to 57 months behind bars. Prosecutors said that at one point he was concealing as much as $107 million.
Warner apologized in court last year and wiped tears from his eyes. The judge today said Warner’s “public humiliation” was punishment enough and that jail was not needed. Warner is worth $2.6 billion, according to Forbes.