Fyre Festival promoter admits fraud, faces up to 10 years' jail

Irene MckinneyMar 08, 2018

Concert promoter Billy McFarland, who promised to stage a "life-changing" Caribbean music festival in the Bahamas previous year and instead presided over a fiasco, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and faces up to a decade behind bars.

Prosecutors have stated that McFarland raised over $1 million from investors, but clearly, these funds were never put toward their intended use, to supply festival goes a great time.

The festival, which McFarland organized with rap star Ja Rule, was to feature bands including Blink-182 and the hip hop act Migos take place over two weekends.

McFarland said that he meant to organize "a legitimate festival" when he planned the Fyre Festival as an outgrowth of a digital application he launched in May 2016 to help concert promoters and private individuals directly book musicians for concerts.

Numerous festival-goers posted pictures on social media of shambolic scenes when they arrived, leading to online mockery of the high prices many had paid.

Additionally, McFarland pleaded guilty to lying to a ticket broker, in order to convince him to buy $2 million dollars worth of tickets for future Fyre Festivals.

Under the organiser's plea agreement he will face eight to ten years in prison, a fine of $300 000 and he will have to pay restitution.

Yesterday McFarland told judges that he underestimated the resources that would be needed to pull off an event such as the one Fyre Festival promised to be.

A statement released by Joon Kim, the acting U.S. 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. He also agreed to forfeit more than $26 million.

The entrepreneur behind a luxury music festival in the Bahamas that collapsed in chaos admitted Tuesday that he swindled investors by vastly overstating his financial health.

McFarland's sentencing hearing is set for June 21st. The exact sentence will be handed down on 21st June.

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