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In brief: Probation OK for Beanie Babies creator, court rules

From Wire Reports

CHICAGO – A federal appeals court upheld the probation sentence Friday for the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies, rejecting arguments by federal prosecutors that he deserved prison time for hiding millions of dollars in a Swiss bank account.

H. Ty Warner was accused of evading $5.6 million in U.S. taxes by concealing assets. He pleaded guilty, made full restitution and paid a nearly $54 million civil penalty.

But when the trial judge sentenced him to two years’ probation, prosecutors took the rare move of appealing the sentence. They argued the toy maker got off too easy given the lengths to which he went to conceal his crime.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the district court did not abuse its considerable discretion with the sentence.

“While incarcerating Warner undoubtedly would have sent a stronger message, the message sent by his existing sentence is, in our view, strong enough,” the judges wrote in the Friday ruling. “Even without a prison sentence, Warner’s payment of a $53.6 million penalty already provides a measure of deterrence.”

Iowa Select Herbs’ supplements under fire

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – An Iowa company has been selling potentially unsafe dietary supplements and falsely advertising them as treatments for diseases ranging from colds to cancer, the federal government alleged Friday.

Iowa Select Herbs manufactures its dietary supplements in conditions that cannot ensure safety and promotes them as medical cures even though they have never been found safe and effective for such purposes, the U.S. Department of Justice alleged in a civil complaint.

The enforcement action asks a judge to block the Cedar Rapids-based company from introducing adulterated and misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.

Iowa Select Herbs makes nearly 200 supplements that it sells to consumers and wholesalers mainly through its website and others such as eBay and Amazon. Most of its supplements are extracts from plants, such as papaya leaf, elderberry and echinacea.

Lower age sought for interstate truckers

WASHINGTON – Congress is considering allowing drivers as young as 18 to drive big rigs across the country.

Federal regulations now require drivers be at least 21 before they can drive commercial trucks across state lines. A bill introduced this week by Republican lawmakers would allow states that join together in “compacts” to drop the age threshold to 18 for interstate trips.

The change was sought by the trucking industry to help address a shortage of truck drivers.

Yet some voices express concern over the potential change. Safety advocate Jackie Gillan said allowing teens, who have higher crash rates, to drive trucks weighing as much as 80,000 pounds and work as many as 82 hours a week is a “catastrophe waiting to happen.”

Global PC sales slow in second quarter

Desktop, laptop and tablet sales across the globe have hit a speed bump but could pick up by the end of the year, according to tech analysts.

PC shipments declined by 9.5 percent in the second quarter of 2015 compared with the same period last year, according to research firm Gartner, which calculated that 68.4 million units had been shipped, including tablets.

According to rival industry analyst International Data Corp., sales tumbled by as much as 11.8 percent this quarter compared with last year.

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