Fyre Fest Founder Has Been Released From Prison Early
Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland was granted early release from federal prison in March, according to TMZ. The con artist was there serving his sentence for his scheme to dupe investors about the fraudulent Fyre Fest luxury musical festival in the Bahamas in 2017.
McFarland's sentence was six years in federal prison plus three of supervised release, meaning he wouldn't be out until 2024. His incarceration came after he pleaded guilty in 2018 to charges of wire fraud.
However, after only four years, McFarland was released on March 30. He was then transferred to "community confinement," likely a halfway house or a personal home, as the celebrity tabloid reported on Wednesday (May 18). He is due to stay there through August.
In 2017, McFarland and his partner, the hip-hop artist Ja Rule, used paid celebrity endorsements to present Fyre Feat as an upscale music destination event. Its lineup initially boasted artists such as rockers blink-182 and rapper Pusha T over two weekends that April and May. But trouble was signaled when artists began dropping out of the lineup ahead of the fest.
Then, the Fyre Fest concerts never even got off the ground at all. In the end, the non-festivities amounted only to the now-infamous photo of a cheese sandwich presented to attendees in place of the "authentic island cuisine experience" they were promised. Some attendees were left stranded on the islands.
blink-182 subsequently entered into litigation with Fyre Fest after the event tried to recoup the $500,000 concert fee that it paid the pop-punk band. The group had bowed out of the festival days before their scheduled appearance. U.S. Marshals later auctioned off unused Fyre Fest branded merchandise.
McFarland was investigated by the FBI for fraud soon after the festival non-starter, according to The New York Times. He faced multiple lawsuits related to it.
On the day of McFarland's sentencing in 2018, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said, "Billy McFarland has shown a disturbing pattern of deception, which resulted in investors and customers losing over $26 million in two separate fraud schemes."
The federal prosecutor continued, "As he had previously admitted, Billy McFarland did not deliver on his promises to his investors and customers. Today, McFarland found out the hard way that empty promises don't lead to jet-setting, champagne and extravagant parties — they lead to federal prison."