The disgraced organizer of the disastrous Fyre music festival in the Bahamas, a daring plan that defrauded investors and left hundreds of buyers stranded on an island, was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison by a federal judge in Manhattan.
The organizer, Billy McFarland, 26, was also convicted for running a fake ticketing business, but that fraud was common in comparison to the Fyre Festival, which had been promoted by influential people from top-notch social networks but Tan imploded publicly on Instagram and Twitter. Mr. McFarland had promised an event with luxury accommodation and performances by bands like Blink-182, but in reality the festival never took place, leaving attendees wandering around. unfinished sites on the island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas.
In March, McFarland pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud after investigators concluded that he had defrauded investors at his company, Fyre Media, as well as a subsidiary that had promoted the music festival, resulting in losses for $ 24 million.
Then, in July, Mr. McFarland pleaded guilty to two more counts of fraud related to another company he executed while on bail that sold fake tickets to fashion, music and sports events and was said to cost at least 30 dollars. victims a minimum of around $ 150,000.
Prosecutors said the music festival, which was to take place in 2017, was the Product of an elaborated scheme. The festival website identified its location as Fyre Cay, a fictitious place that was described as a private island that had once belonged to drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Actually, Mr. McFarland got some land in Great Exuma just a few weeks before the festival and hired workers who rushed to prepare for the event. But when the ticket holders arrived, Mr. McFarland's plans were disrupted and the festival was canceled. His famous business partner in Fyre Media, rapper Ja Rule, posted on social media that he was "disconsolate" because of the chaos.
From late 2017 to early 2018, Mr. McFarland ran a company called NYC VIP Access that sold fake tickets for events like the Met Gala, Coachella, Burning Man and the Super Bowl. In one case, prosecutors said, two clients flew from Florida to New York for the Grammy Awards, only to be turned down at the door.
In a memorandum of judgment, prosecutors called Mr. McFarland "the consummate con man," adding: "He betrayed and deceived his investors, clients and employees while living the best life in his luxurious apartment, traveled to exclusive places, stayed in luxury hotels, with driver in his Maserati and entertaining himself and his friends in restaurants, bars and casinos. "
They also accused Mr. McFarland of having no remorse, citing a line from a report by forensic psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Levin, who evaluated the defendant. Regarding VIP access operations, Dr. Levin wrote: "He did not feel that what he did was wrong."
The defense attorneys responded that Mr. McFarland had made a genuine effort to use the money he got from investors in a flawed business plan, had been responsible for charitable acts and had suffered untreated mental illness.
They also said that the prosecution's claim about the degree of remorse of their clients was based on "a misleading and misinterpreted line".
Although Mr. McFarland may not have thought he was wrong while managing VIP access, he had come to see things differently, those lawyers wrote, adding: "As Billy has unequivocally acknowledged, that is fraud."