The pillow pilferer was back in San Diego Superior Court on Tuesday, where he pled guilty to one count of grand theft as part of a plea bargain. Out on $50,000 bail, Danny Ray Wright, 42, of Carlsbad, CA, was facing four years and eight months in prison had his case gone to trial. Wright was arrested in July after authorities discovered more than 3,500 Pillow Pets stuffed toys stashed in his home and in two Oceanside self-storage lockers. Lucky for Wright, an agreement was met, and he will serve a mere 15 days of public service.
Just as the name suggests, Pillow Pets are stuffed animals that morph into pillows. They may seem like child’s play, but these toys are big business. Over the past few years, Pillow Pets’ parent company, CJ Products, has secured licensing deals with Disney, NFL, and Major League Baseball, bringing company revenues to $300 million in 2010 alone.
For three weeks in December, Wright worked as an independent contractor for CJ Products, selling their Pillow Pets in a freelance capacity; however, he was fired immediately after he failed to pay the company its share. After being sacked, Wright worked as a fitness trainer in the same building where CJ Products stores their inventory.
On June 10, a CJ Products employee caught Wright in the parking lot, filling his vehicle to the brim with boxes of the stuffed animals. Smaller versions of the product retail for $20 to $30, and larger ones go for as much as $60 each, so it’s estimated Wright stole over $84,000 worth of these toys. He sold over $11,000 worth on eBay, and rented self-storage units solely for the purpose of hiding the stolen merchandise.
According to Deputy District Attorney Aimee McLeod, Wright will be back in court in August for his formal sentencing, but all things considered, he has to be pleased with the recent plea agreement. About two weeks’ worth of community service sure beats four years and eight months in a cell.