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Fyre Festival Organizer’s Lawyer Claims ‘Mental Illness’ in New Court Letter

Randall Jackson says client Billy McFarland’s alcohol abuse, ADHD and bipolar disorder led to “manic or hypomanic” episodes

Fyre Festival

Billy McFarland, the promoter of the failed Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, leaves federal court after pleading guilty to wire fraud charges, in New York.

Mark Lennihan/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Randall Jackson, the lawyer of Billy McFarland, organizer of the failed Fyre Festival venture, filed a letter claiming that his client suffers from “mental illness.” Jackson wrote a letter to U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald describing how McFarland was diagnosed with alcohol abuse, ADHD and bipolar disorder, which led to his criminal behavior.

According to Jackson’s letter, McFarland’s mental health problems led to “manic or hypomanic” episodes, as well as disorganized behavior and “delusional beliefs of having special and unique talents that will lead to fame and fortune.” The attorney, who is asking for leniency during McFarland’s upcoming sentencing on October 11th, also wrote, “Nothing in this case speaks to any malicious intent on his part. Just a sea of bad judgment, poor decisions, and the type of core instability that can only be explained by mental illness.” The findings in the letter came from a psychologist hired to evaluate McFarland and Jackson emphasized to the judge that his client is not a sociopath.

In March, McFarland pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud for scamming 80 investors out of $26 million and was ordered to return the money. The festival organizer admitted that he had to lied to score the funds for Fyre Festival from investors. The festival, set in Exuma, Bahamas, advertised luxury accommodations and a lineup of artists like Migos and Major Lazer, but failed to deliver. Guests arrived to an unfinished festival site with no food. The event became even more chaotic when it was cancelled causing return flights to be delayed.

McFarland is facing a minimum of 11 years in prison for his actions and probation officers are recommending eight years. McFarland is also being tried for his involvement in a second fraud case where he scammed people into buying fake tickets to events like the 2018 Met Gala and Burning Man.

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