Fyre Festival Organizer Billy McFarland Pleads Guilty to Fraud
The Fyre Festival was supposed to be a music festival held over two weekends on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma. Organized by Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland and Ja Rule, Fyre Festival should have been full of music, luxurious villas and cabanas, performances from the G.O.O.D. Music crew and more. Instead, attendees received nothing their $12,000 VIP packages promised.
Now, McFarland has pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, admitting to forging documents and lying to investors as a way to convince them to fund $26 million into his company and Fyre Festival.
According to the Justice Department, McFarland had been lying to investors since 2016, manipulating income statements and falsifying documents to show that his company booked 2,500 artists in a month, when it really only booked 60 in a year.
“As he admitted today, William McFarland tendered fake documents to induce investors and a ticket vendor to put more than $26 million into his company and the disastrous Fyre Festival," said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. "He now awaits sentencing for his admitted swindle.”
McFarland also falsified stock ownership statements, showing investors that he owned more stock than he actually did. The Fyre Media chief also forged emails that showed banks approving loans that were actually declined and lied about a famous venture capital vetting Fyre Media and declining to invest in it.
"While my intention and effort was directed to organizing a legitimate festival, I grossly underestimated the resources that would be necessary to hold an event of this magnitude," McFarland said in court.
McFarland will now be sentenced on June 21 by a federal judge. His charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. As for Ja Rule, according to his lawyer, the rapper will not be charged because he "never took a penny of investor money," Engadget reports.
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