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Fyre Festival Organizer Pleads Guilty to Misleading Investors

Billy McFarland faces up to 40 years in prison

Fyre Festival

Billy McFarland, the entrepreneur behind the disastrous Fyre Festival, pleaded guilty to misleading investors.

Patrick McMullan/Getty

Billy McFarland, the entrepreneur who co-organized the disastrous Fyre Festival in 2017, pleaded guilty to misleading investors and wire fraud, CNBC reports.

McFarland – who initially pleaded not guilty last October – admitted Tuesday that he engaged in “fraudulent behavior” and accepted full responsibility for several mistakes that led to the Fyre Festival debacle. He said he “grossly underestimated” the resources needed to produce a massive festival and agreed to forfeit more than $26 million. He also apologized to his company, Fyre Media, investors and family. 

Prosecutors and McFarland’s lawyers reportedly reached an agreement for McFarland to serve a 97-to-120 month prison sentence, though a judge will have the final say. McFarland could face up to 40 years in jail, with each of his two wire fraud charges carrying a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 21st.

“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 Berman. “He now awaits sentencing for his admitted swindle.”

Fyre Festival was billed as a luxury music event in the Bahamas with gourmet food and lavish accommodations. The bill boasted artists like Blink-182 and Major Lazer and the festival was promoted with Instagram photos featuring famous models. Last April, however, when attendees began to arrive on the island, they discovered ramshackle tents and picnic food. The event was promptly canceled.

Along with the criminal charges McFarland has now pleaded guilty to, he and his Fyre Festival associates, including the rapper Ja Rule, are facing a slew of civil lawsuits

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