Ty Warner, the creator of Beanie Babies, has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. His name was on a list of tax cheats that the Swiss bank UBS turned over to authorities in an attempt to lessen their own culpability in a tax scandal. It turns out that Mr. Warner used an illegal tax shelter to avoid payment of approximately $850,000 in income taxes in 2002. (He made $49 million that year.) He was indicted for tax fraud and eventually pleaded guilty. He agreed to pay a fine of $53 million. He was scheduled to be sentenced on January 14, 2014.
In preparation for the sentencing hearing, Mr. Warner hired a bunch of really expensive lawyers. He hired at least three separate firms, including Kirkland & Ellis, Caplin & Drysdale, and Scandaglia & Ryan, from New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago, respectively. These three firms filed a 35 page Memorandum in Support of a Sentence of Probation, basically a mitigation report.
HERE is a link to the report. This thing is fascinating. Just open the Memo and scan the table of contents. It is a legal masterpiece. I can't even guess how many hours went into the preparation of this report, nor the average hourly rate. In addition to making compelling and well-supported legal arguments as to the appropriateness of a sentence of probation, this Memo could also be filed in support of Mr. Warner's canonization. It basically outlines his entire life starting with his humble beginnings and then details nearly every bit of good he has ever done in his life, including specific itemization of more than $140 million in charitable gifts that he's made since 1995.
In the end, whatever this Memo cost him was worth the price. He was sentenced this morning to two years of probation. Nice work counselors.
At the sentencing hearing, the U.S. AG said that probation - particularly in light of a similar case where the offender was sentenced to a year in prison - would send the message that you can 'write a big check' and avoid prison.
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