Frye Festival Organizer Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison on Multiple Counts of Fraud

Frye Festival Organizer Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison on Multiple Counts of Fraud

Billy McFarland, the 26-year-old organizer and founder of the Fyre Festival, has been sentenced to six years in federal prison for multiple counts of fraud. McFarland’s attorneys had asked the court for leniency, saying that he suffered from bipolar disorder—and the disgraced promotor repeatedly apologized for his actions. Nonetheless, U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald felt that a six-year sentence was in order.

Buchwald told the court, “Bipolar does not excuse behavior,” pointing out that McFarland had blatantly lied to investors. Nonetheless, the sentence could have been harsher: he was facing the possibility of up to 20 years in prison. 

According to prosecutors, McFarland stole more than $26 million from Fyre Festival investors and contractors.

One of the fraud charges stemmed from a failed festival in the Bahamas. McFarland promoted that event with the help of celebrity investors who included Kendall Jenner and rapper Ja Rule.

Clad in a prison jumpsuit, McFarland told the court, “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.”

Some of the people McFarland defrauded spoke out in court, included Joe Nemeth—who is in his late fifties and stressed that McFarland “financially ruined my and my wife’s life.”

Thanks to McFarland, Nemeth asserted, he can forget about ever being able to retire. 

Nemeth told the court, “It took me 20 years of saving my lunch money to save $180,000. I hope the justice system has the last laugh at Mr. McFarland.”

In March, McFarland pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud in connection with the Fyre Festival. But in June, he was arrested again—this time, for a ticket-selling scam he called NYC VIP Access. McFarland falsely claimed to offer access to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show and other major events—and that scam, according to prosecutors, brought in at least $150,000 in addition to the millions stolen from Fyre Festival investors.  
 

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.