Fyre Festival organiser Billy McFarland has been sentenced to six years in prison by a federal judge in Manhattan.
McFarland, who co-founded the disastrous ‘luxury’ music festival Fyre Festival with rapper Ja Rule, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges back in March and then pleaded guilty to two more counts of fraud relating to a sham ticket-selling business in July too.
Fyre Festival was advertised as a luxury event on the Bahamian island of Exuma last April and May, with people buying ticket packages that cost anywhere from $1,200 to more than $100,000.
In reality, the “gourmet” food turned out to be cheese sandwiches and the accommodation was leaky tents, while headline acts like Blink-182 and Migos pulled out and the spectacle was soon torn apart on social media by those who’d paid to attend.
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In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors called McFarland “the consummate con artist”, according to The New York Times.
“He betrayed and deceived his investors, customers, and employees while he was living the high life at his luxury apartment, traveling to exclusive locales, staying at luxury hotels, being chauffeured in his Maserati, and entertaining himself and his friends at restaurants, bars, and casinos,” prosecutors said.
Reports from the court added that McFarland apologised for his actions several times during the sentencing hearing, saying (via Vice): “The remorse I feel is crushing. I lived every day with the weight of knowing that I literally destroyed the lives of my friends and family.”
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McFarland’s legal team also asked for leniency in the sentencing, saying that McFarland had made a genuine effort to use the money he got from investors on a flawed business plan, had been responsible for charitable acts and had suffered from untreated mental illness.
In her ruling, however, Judge Buchwald called McFarland a “serial fraudster”.
“This was not a good idea gone bad, the bad intent was long withstanding,” she said. “It is my conclusion based on all the submissions that the defendant is a serial fraudster and that to date his fraud like a circle has no ending.”
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