(CBS/AP) CHICAGO - The billionaire who created Beanie Babies has pleaded guilty to a tax evasion charge that could send him to prison for years.
Ty Warner broke down crying in court and apologized as he entered his plea on Wednesday. Then, he removed his designer tortoise-shell glasses and sought to regain his composure before a federal judge in Chicago.
He said he knew he had much to be thankful for, mentioning his successful stuffed-toys company. He added, "There's no excuse for my actions."
Judge Charles Kocoras stopped Warner and told him "there will be time for you to bare your soul" at his Jan. 15 sentencing.
According to a September 18 report by CBS Chicago, the 69-year-old admitted failing to report income he earned from an offshore financial account with UBS, a global financial services firm headquartered in Switzerland.
Gregory Scandaglia, Warner's attorney, reportedly said his client will pay a civil penalty of $53.5 million.
According to the Chicago Tribune, prosecutors say Warner failed to report $24.4 million in income from 1999 to 2007 and failed to pay $5 million in taxes.
The paper reports Warner kept his Swiss account a secret, even from his accountants.
Tax evasion carries a maximum five-year prison term.
As of September 2013, Forbes magazine ranks Warner as number 209 on its Forbes 400 "Richest People in America" list, with a net worth of $2.6 billion.