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Ty Warner, owner of Westmont-based Ty Inc., pleads guilty, faces civil penalty and possible jail time

DOWNERS GROVE – Ty Warner, the creator of Beanie Babies and sole owner of Westmont-based Ty Inc., pleaded guilty to tax evasion for hiding income he earned in a secret offshore account with Swiss Bank UBS on Wednesday.

His official guilty plea comes about two weeks after his attorney said the billionaire planned to plead guilty and pay a $53.5 million civil penalty.

Civil penalties can be levied up to 50 percent of the amount in the account. Court proceedings revealed that Warner's Swiss accounts had up to $107 million, at one time, according to media reports.

Warner, 69, of Oak Brook, also faces up to five years in prison. His sentencing is set for January.

Prosecutors say Warner failed to report about $24.4 million in income from 1999 to 2007, according to media reports.

Warner is the second taxpayer charged in Federal Court in Chicago in connection with an ongoing investigation of U.S. taxpayer clients of Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) and other overseas banks that hid foreign accounts from the Internal Revenue Service.

In February 2009, UBS entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the United States, admitting that it helped taxpayers hide accounts from the IRS. As part of the agreement, UBS provided the government with the identities of, and account information for, certain customers of UBS’ U.S. cross-border banking business.

Westmont's largest park is named after Ty Warner.

In 1998, Ty Warner donated $7 million toward the development of Ty Warner Park, a 40-plus acre park at the corner of Blackhawk and Plaza drives in Westmont.

Ty Inc.'s headquarters are located across the street from the Westmont park.

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