By Chux Odoh
Billy McFarland, the founder of last year’s failed Fyre Festival music event, was sentenced to six years in prison today for multiple counts of fraud, according to multiple reports from US media agencies.
McFarland sentencing took place at the federal court in Manhattan, where the presiding judge, Naomi Reice Buchwald described him as a ‘serial fraudster.
The 26-year-old pled guilty to wire fraud charges in March, admitting to defrauding investors of $26m in the failed 2017 music festival and over $100,000 in a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme after his arrest in the festival scam.
To help publicize the festival, the convicted promoter hired social media influencers like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and other models who promoted the festival as an ultra-luxurious event on the Bahamian island of Exuma over two weekends in April and May of 2017. With that, people were lured into buying ticket packages ranging from $1,200 to over $100,000.
McFarland said “I’m sorry” multiple times during his sentencing hearing and begged Judge Buchwald for leniency as his sister and mother wept while his father held his head in his hands. He said he had faced violence in prison since his incarceration in July, and that “the best way to be sorry is through my future actions.”
The convict’s legal team had also asked the court for leniency, saying in early October their client had been diagnosed with untreated bipolar disorder, preventing him from knowing right from wrong.
This, however, didn’t change the mind of Judge Buchwald who said: “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,” she said, adding that even if he’s bipolar that does not excuse his behaviour.
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