McFarland was facing charges related to the Fyre Festival — where he used popular celebrities to help him convince people to spend thousands of dollars on tickets and flights to an event that never took place — and for running a fake ticket-selling business that scammed unsuspecting victims out of at least $150,000. McFarland pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud in March related to the failed festival. He pleaded guilty to two more counts related to the ticket scam in July.
Federal prosecutors argued that U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald should sentence McFarland, whom they described as “the consummate con artist,” to a minimum of 15 years and eight months behind bars. “He betrayed and deceived his investors, customers, and employees while he was living the high life at his luxury apartment, traveling to exclusive locales, staying at luxury hotels, being chauffeured in his Maserati, and entertaining himself and his friends at restaurants, bars, and casinos,” prosecutors wrote.
McFarland insisted that he had learned from his mistakes. “The remorse I feel is crushing,” he said in the courtroom, according to Vice. “I lived every day with the weight of knowing that I literally destroyed the lives of my friends and family.” In addition, McFarland’s legal team said that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, meaning that he was unable to determine what was right and what was wrong.
Judge Buchwald, however, was not swayed by this argument. “This was not a good idea gone bad, the bad intent was long withstanding,” she said. She also added, “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.”