Fyre festival: creator of disastrous event sentenced on fraud charges

Billy McFarland was sentenced on Thursday in Manhattan after pleading guilty to wire fraud charges in March

A federal judge has given the creator of the highly publicized, failed Fyre festival in the Bahamas a six-year prison term.

Billy McFarland was sentenced on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald called him a serial fraudster.

He had admitted defrauding investors of $26m in the 2017 music festival and over $100,000 in a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme after his arrest in the festival scam.

Buchwald says McFarland deserved a long prison term because he disrespected the criminal justice system by lying to law enforcement agents when they learned about the ticket-selling business.

Speaking in a courtroom packed with friends and family and at least one victim, McFarland apologized as family members cried behind him.

He said he hit rock bottom and plans to become a better person.

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The festival was promoted as an ultra-luxurious event on the Bahamian island of Exuma over two weekends in April and May of 2017. It was promoted on social media by Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and other models and celebrities coaxing people into buying ticket packages ranging from $1,200 to over $100,000.

Customers hoping to see Blink-182 and Migos arrived to learn music acts were canceled. Their luxury accommodations and gourmet food consisted of leaky white tents and cheese sandwiches. Customers lashed out on social media with the hashtag #fyrefraud.

In March, McFarland pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges, agreeing to serve up to a decade in prison for lying to investors and sending false documents.

I deeply regret my actions, and I apologize to my investors, team, family and supporters who I let down, he told the judge at the time.

He said he planned to organize a legitimate festival when he organized 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.

I grossly underestimated the resources that would be necessary to hold an event of this magnitude, he said.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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