Billy McFarland, the young, dumb founder of the ill-fated Fyre Festival, was sentenced today to six years in prison.
“The remorse I feel is crushing,” McFarland said to a packed courtroom. “I lived every day with the weight of knowing that I literally destroyed the lives of my friends and family.”
U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald wasn’t having it. “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,” she said, noting that she was taking into account McFarland’s long history of deception. “This was not a good idea gone bad, the bad intent was long withstanding,” she said.
McFarland was arrested back in 2017 on charges of providing false financial information to potential investors of Fyre Fest. The oceanfront music festival was billed as an upscale boutique experience providing luxury villas, catered meals, and performances from artists such as Migos, Major Lazer, and Blink-182, but attendees arrived in the Bahamas to find a post-apocalyptic tent city.
He originally faced up to 40 years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to two counts of wire fraud in connection to the festival. Later, he pleaded guilty to further fraud charges that surfaced after he launched a new scheme to sell fake tickets to major events while on pre-trial release. McFarland’s legal team asked for leniency for their client, citing untreated bipolar disorder, which reportedly prevents him from knowing right from wrong.
In the end, Buchwald did offer some leniency. She had the option to go as high as 20 years for convictions on three counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, and one count of lying to investigators. Instead, she allowed his different sentences to be served concurrently, meaning he’ll receive six years in prison, as well as three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to forfeit more $26 million. That’s to go along with the $5 million civil suit he’s on the hook for.
A documentary about the festival will air on Hulu next year.