Saturday, 25 May, 2019

Fyre Festival Promoter Billy McFarland Pleads Guilty To Fraud

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Lora Ball | 07 March, 2018, 06:44

The controversial Bahamas-based "luxury" event, where punters paid as much as $12,000 for tickets, was scheduled to go down across two weekends in April and May with headliners blink-182 and more.

McFarland, who organized the disastrous Fyre Festival that made headlines previous year, has pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, a spokesman for the USA attorney's office for the southern district of NY told TheWrap on Tuesday. In an attempt to raise what I thought were needed funds, I lied to investors about various aspects of Fyre Media and my personal finances. McFarland may spend a decade in prison after admitting he defrauded 80 investors and a ticket broker out of more than US$26 million.

"I deeply regret my actions, and I apologize to my investors, team, family and supporters who I let down", a chastened McFarland told U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan.

The event reportedly served out cold cheese sandwiches and provided partially-constructed tents.

Scenes of chaos also played out on social media, as many festivalgoers turned to Twitter to post photos of the disappointing venue. But under the plea agreement, McFarland likely would face a sentence of eight to 10 years, and a fine of up to $300,000.

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"McFarland promised a "life changing" music festival but in actuality delivered a disaster", then-acting US Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement at the time of McFarland's arrest.

He also admitted to lying to a ticket vendor about Fyre Media's financial position, in order to induce them to pay $2 million for a block of advance tickets.

Mr. McFarland, who has been free on bail, left the courthouse after his appearance without making any further statements.

McFarland - who appeared in Manhattan federal court notably thinner - admitted to his crimes, saying, "Today your Honor, I am accepting full responsibility for several serious mistakes that I made in my role as the head of Fyre Media and Fyre Festival".

Prosecutors and McFarland's lawyers agreed that a sentence of 97 to 120 months would be appropriate under his plea deal.

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