The organizer of last year’s disastrous Fyre Festival has been sentenced to six years in prison, according to the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
William McFarland pleaded guilty in March to two counts of wire fraud for his role in defrauding Fyre Festival investors and ticket vendors of about $26 million, prosecutors said in a statement Thursday.
McFarland also has pleaded guilty to another charge of bank fraud for a “sham ticket scheme” in which he sold bogus tickets to fashion, music and sporting events, and another count of bank fraud for writing a check using the name and account number of one of his employees without authorization as part of what Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman called a “disturbing pattern of deception.”
He pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal law enforcement as well, the US attorney’s office said.
The Fyre Festival unfolded like a nightmare built for the social media age.
It was heavily advertised by social media influencers, who promised a weekend in paradise with celebrities and yachts and an artist lineup featuring Blink-182, Migos, Lil Yachty and Major Lazer. Some hopeful attendees spent thousands of dollars on tickets.
But when the crowds showed up in the Bahamas, they found mass disorganization, half-built tents and unappetizing cheese sandwiches on a mostly undeveloped island. Many of the musicians who were expected to perform backed out of the festival because of the chaotic planning.
“As he had previously admitted, Billy McFarland did not deliver on his promises to his investors and customers,” Berman said in the statement.
“Today, McFarland found out the hard way that empty promises don’t lead to jet-setting, champagne, and extravagant parties — they lead to federal prison.”