Billy McFarland, would-be promoter and architect of both the Fyre Festival debacle and a failed ticket brokering operation, has pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and could face up to ten years in prison.
“I deeply regret my actions, and I apologize to my investors, team, family and supporters who I let down,” said a ‘contrite’ McFarland after admitting in a Manhattan federal court that he had defrauded 80 investors and falsified documents to keep funding going as the soon to be infamous festival approached.
Billed as a luxurious escape for the ultra-elite who could afford its exorbitant price tags and desired its posh accommodations, the Fyre Fest failed spectacularly. Guests arriving to the Bahamas found sub-standard accommodations, minimal food, and no first aid staff. It was cancelled after its first day, leaving angry ticket buyers, investors and workers in its wake.
In his mea culpa, McFarland said that his intentions were to run a successful venture, but things spun out of control.
“I grossly underestimated the resources that would be necessary to hold an event of this magnitude,” he told U.S. District Judge Naomi Rice Buchwald. In an attempt to raise what I thought were needed funds, I lied to investors about various aspects of Fyre Media and my personal finances. Those lies included false documents and information.
The charges he faced carried a maximum sentence of up to 20 years, but McFarland’s plea likely means he will serve less time than the maximum.
As part of his actions this week, McFarland pleaded guilty to lying to a ticket broker to sell $2 million for an advance block of tickets to future Fyre events. He also allegedly ran up debt against his Fyre accounts, as well as personal and employee credit lines to operate a ticket resale business called Magnises.
McFarland still has several substantial civil lawsuits pending, according to Bloomberg.