Beanie Baby creator Ty Warner might be headed to prison after all.
The billionaire was originally sentenced to probation after hiding $25 million in Swiss banks to avoid US taxes, but federal prosecutors are now asking for re-sentencing. Their appeal argued that Warner appears to be getting a different standard of justice than the average, non-billionaire American would.
The original sentencing for the Beanie Baby creator “creates improper disparities between rich and poor defendants,” the appeal argued.
“In the future, counsel for offshore-evasion defendants, and white-collar defendants in general, will certainly argue that since Warner received probation, their clients should as well,” the filing says.
Warner had already agreed to pay $27 million in back taxes and interest, as well as a $53 million penalty.
Eric Herman, a spokesman for the Beanie Baby founder, said he believes the sentence should stand.
“Unfortunately, the government is spending resources to challenge a well-reasoned and careful sentence issued by a well-respected judge,” the statement said.
Warner was originally contrite, apologizing to the court for his actions.
“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. “For all if this, your honor, I am truly sorry.”
But instead of giving the Beanie Baby creator the one year in prison that prosecutors had asked for, Judge Charles Kocoras instead praised Warner for his charitable work, saying society was better served by letting him remain free.
“Mr. Warner’s private acts of kindness, generosity, and benevolence are overwhelming,” Kocoras said at the hearing earlier this year. “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.”
But prosecutors have also thrown cold water on these claims, noting that the Beanie Baby creator has actually given away less than 2 percent of his $1.7 billion net worth. That certainly did not warrant a “get out of jail free card,” they argued.