Ty Warner, the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies
, will not serve any jail time after pleading guilty to felony tax evasion last fall. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered him instead to serve two years probation.
Having pled guilty last October, the 69-year-old Warner
told U.S. District Court Judge Charles Kocoras in his sentencing hearing that his crime was the "biggest mistake" of his life, Reuters reported
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"I am truly sorry," Warner told the judge, adding that the letters of support he received from Beanie Babies' fans "made my feelings of shame and embarrassment that much more unbearable."
With a net worth of approximately $2.6 billion in 2013, Warner is ranked the 209th richest American by Forbes
According to prosecutors, Warner evaded paying nearly $5.6 million in federal taxes, hiding millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts.
At the time of his sentencing, Warner agreed to pay a civil penalty of nearly $53.6 million.
Considering the extent of the cover-up and the federal guidelines for such a crime, prosecutors argued that Warner should serve some time in jail for his felony.
"The consequences cannot be simply to pay what you owe," Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Petersen said before the sentence was handed down.
Warner's probation includes at least 500 hours of community service. At least some of his time will be spent mentoring students at a Catholic boys' school in a Chicago neighborhood that is predominantly poor and mostly African-American, Reuters noted.
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Reaching the height of their popularity in the 1990s, Beanie Babies are small plush toys that appealed to young children and became popular among collectors.
The Chicago-born Warner had been a college dropout who reportedly mortgaged his house and used his entire life savings to launch his company Ty Inc., from which Beanie Babies was born.
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