Published Oct 11, 2018Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison today for multiple counts of fraud, stemming from the 2017 Bahamas-based event that descended into chaos on its first day of action.
"The remorse I feel is crushing," McFarland said in New York federal court, as VICE reports. "I've lived every day with the weight of knowing that I literally destroyed the lives of my friends and family."
In a filing, prosecutors called McFarland "the consummate con artist," adding, "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."
Defence lawyers argued that McFarland had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, leaving him unable to determine a difference between right and wrong. However, U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald said McFarland's "bad intent was long withstanding," adding, "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."
McFarland was first arrested back in 2017 in connection with a scheme to defraud potential investors in Fyre Festival, which included misrepresenting financial information about his company Fyre Media.
Billed as "the next Coachella," Fyre Festival promised an upscale festival experience complete with catered meals, luxury accommodations and performances from Blink-182, Migos and Major Lazer. However, all of that turned out to be untrue upon attendees arriving in the Bahamas, leading the event to go viral.
In June of this year, McFarlane was arrested again after he was found to be running a fraudulent ticket-selling service while on bail for the previous charges.
Earlier this month, two Fyre Festival attendees were awarded a total of $5 million USD in damages.
A documentary series chronicling the festival will arrive on Hulu next year.