Fyre Festival organizer arrested for fraud, faces 20 years in jail
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Billy McFarland, the co-founder of the failed “fiasco” Fyre Festival, which was canceled earlier this year, was released on bail over the weekend after being arrested Friday on fraud charges.
The tech entrepreneur was charged with wire fraud in connection to his digital company, Fyre Media, as well as for his botched luxe music festival that made headlines in April after attendees were left stranded in the Bahamas, according to the Manhattan U.S. attorney.
McFarland faces up to 20 years in prison. He was released on $300,000 bail.
Investigators allege that the 25-year-old lied and provided false documents in an effort to secure a $1.2 million investment in Fyre Media. According to the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, McFarland also lied to investors, claiming he made millions in revenue from 2016 to 2017. In reality, he’d earned under $60,000 from approximately 60 artist bookings.
“As alleged, William McFarland promised a ‘life changing’ music festival, but in actuality delivered a disaster,” Joon Kim, the acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney, said in a statement. “McFarland allegedly presented false documents to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival. Thanks to the investigative efforts of the FBI, McFarland will now have to answer for his crimes.”
ABC News reached out to McFarland after his arrest but did not immediately hear back. His lawyer told ABC News that when the case is over, “you will see he is hardly the villain the government portrays him as.”
McFarland blamed inclement weather for the festival’s failure, and promised refunds and complimentary tickets to next year’s event for those who planned to attend the April festival on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma.
Ticket packages for Fyre Festival reportedly sold for between $4,000 to $100,000 per person.
Rapper Ja Rule co-founded the festival, but was not arrested with McFarland.
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