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Fyre Festival Promoter Billy McFarland Has Pleaded Guilty to Fraud

08 March 2018
Fyre Festival Promoter Billy McFarland Has Pleaded Guilty to Fraud

Today it was reported by TMZ that Billy MacFarland, the entrepreneur who founded Fyre Festival only to have it crash and burn in spectacular trainwreck style in the summer of 2017, has pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud.

In addition to prison time, McFarland and Fyre Media face more than a dozen civil suits and an ongoing bankruptcy liquidation of the company, as investors and ticket buyers try to recover some of their losses.

He was arrested and charged in late June, accused of using misrepresentations to raise millions of dollars by vastly overstating the app's revenues, the festival's prospects and his own finances.

McFarland, 26, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court in a deal with prosecutors that suggested he serve between eight and 10 years in prison.

Joon H. Kim, the acting USA attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director-in-charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, released a statement following McFarland's arrest.

He told the judge he "grossly underestimated the resources that would be necessary to hold an event of this magnitude".

"I deeply regret my actions, and I apologize to my investors, team, family and supporters who I let down", he said as quoted by The Associated Press. "Those lies included false documents and information".

The US Attorney's office said that at least 80 investors fell victim to his scheme, losing more than $24 million.

A lawsuit filed in May by festival attendees Matthew Herlihy and Anthony Lauriello accuses McFarland and festival co-founder Ja Rule of "false representations, material omissions and negligence".

A statement released by Joon Kim, the acting USA attorney for the Southern District of NY at the time of McFarland's arrest, said McFarland told investors that Fyre Media earned millions of dollars from thousands of artist bookings in 2016 and 2017, but in reality the company had brought in less than $60,000 from about 60 artist bookings.

McFarland is free on bail and living with his parents in New Jersey. The event was meant to be a destination festival in the Bahamas featuring major acts, promoted by supermodels and set against the backdrop of luxury.