CHICAGO (AP) - The creator of Beanie Babies stuffed animals has been charged with federal tax evasion for allegedly failing to report income earned in a secret offshore account, and he's agreed to pay a more than $53 million penalty. Prosecutors in Chicago announced charges Wednesday against H. Ty Warner. His attorney issued a statement saying the 69-year-old would plead guilty and pay a penalty of more than $53 million. Defense lawyer Gregory Scandaglia called the matter an "unfortunate situation" that Warner "has been trying to resolve for several years." Warner lives suburban Chicago and is the sole owner of TY Inc. The company designs and sells plush toy animals, including Beanie Babies. According to charging documents, Warner maintained a secret offshore account with the Switzerland-based financial services company, UBS, starting in 1996.
UNDATED -- Will your kids be clamoring for an Elmo that gives hugs, a loom that lets you make rubber bracelets or a kid-size go-cart this holiday? Those and others have made Toys R Us' annual list of "hot" toys that the company is betting kids will want around holiday time. It's a crucial calculation because retailers can make up to 40 percent of annual holiday sales during the holiday season, so Wayne, N.J.-based Toys R Us needs to make sure it has the right mix of toys at the right prices. Overall holiday spending is expected to be cautious. Retail revenue in November and December is expected to rise 2.4 percent during the biggest shopping period of the year, Chicago-based research firm ShopperTrak said Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House is expected to consider a bill this week that would cut food stamps by around $4 billion annually and allow states to put broad new work requirements in place for recipients. The legislation would end government waivers that have allowed able-bodied adults who don't have dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely. The vote comes after the House defeated a wide-ranging farm bill in June because many conservatives believed the cuts to the nearly $80 billion-a-year food stamp program weren't high enough. That bill would have made around $2 billion a year in cuts. One in seven Americans use food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The costs of the program have more than doubled in the past five years.
FENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The state says an upscale housing developer violated Michigan law by destroying Flint-area wetlands and dumping sediment into waterways. The office of state Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a lawsuit last month in Genesee Circuit Court on behalf of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality against October Capital Group, owners of the Liberty Shores housing development. Steve Munkres, head of October Capital Group, tells The Flint Journal that he's aware of the DEQ's concerns but said the collapse of the housing industry forced his company out of business and made it unable to pay for necessary improvements. Munkres says the company "did everything we could." Genesee County's Fenton Township approved the 182-home subdivision in 2005. Munkres says the development went into foreclosure and was sold.
DETROIT (AP) - A former car plant that's a symbol of Detroit's industrial decline could be sold at public auction after a developer missed deadlines to acquire the property. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press report Evanston, Ill.-based developer Bill Hults missed a Friday deadline to come up with $1 million. He's leading a group that wants to convert the Packard plant into a commercial, housing and entertainment complex. Hults says he's still working to buy the site. Wayne County's Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski says his office hasn't ruled out working with Hults if he can come up with the money soon. Online bidding starts at $1 million and continues until Sept. 26. If there are no buyers, it would go up again at a second auction in October.
HONOLULU (AP) - The chief executive of the transit company responsible for spilling 1,400 tons of molasses in Hawaii waters says the company will fully pay for cleanup and other costs without passing them on to taxpayers or customers. Matson Navigation Co. CEO Matt Cox said Monday that he is sorry for the spill, and the company won't ship molasses until it's confident a similar spill will not occur. Cox spoke after taking a boat tour of the harbor and nearby waters with state officials, lawmakers and reporters. State officials say they have collected about 25,000 dead fish and other animals from surrounding waters since the Sept. 9 spill. The spill happened in Honolulu Harbor in an industrial area about 5 miles west of Waikiki.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Officials have signed an agreement aimed at expanding exports of corn and soybean produced in Michigan to Taiwan. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on Monday hosted the Agriculture Trade Goodwill Mission from Taiwan in Lansing. The delegation's visit was part of an effort to learn more about Michigan soybean and corn production. Officials say the agreement signed during the visit involves the Michigan Corn Marketing Program and the Taiwan Feed Industry Association, as well as the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee and the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association. The delegation also visited a farm in Livingston County and toured a Michigan State University's farm. The agreement comes as Michigan works to boost agriculture exports and encourage job-creation in the food industry.
NEW YORK (AP) - Coming off of a weak back-to-school shopping period, a research firm expects holiday sales growth will be slower this year during the crucial holiday season. Shoppers are also expected to visit fewer stores as they research purchases online. Retail revenue in November and December should rise 2.4 percent during the biggest shopping period of the year, Chicago-based research firm ShopperTrak said Tuesday. That compares with a 3 percent increase in 2012 from 2011. While the job picture has been improving in the U.S. and the turnaround in the housing market is gaining traction, the improvements have not been enough to sustain higher levels of spending for most Americans. Most continue to juggle tepid wage gains with a higher cost of living.