US Attorney Says Fyre Fest Promoter Billy McFarland Isn't Really Sorry

Billy McFarland
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Billy McFarland, the promoter of the failed Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, leaves federal court after pleading guilty to wire fraud charges on March 6, 2018 in New York City.

The government doesn't think Billy McFarland is truly sorry for the $150,000 he stole operating a fake ticketing company while out on bail for the Fyre Fest debacle, and they are using McFarland's own psychiatric doctor to make their case.

On Monday, Dr. Andrew Levin with Columbia University sent a letter to McFarland's attorney Randall Jackson clarifying a psychological evaluation undertaken to determine if the Fyre Fest founder had any mental health issues that the judge should know about before sentencing him for his phony ticket business NYC VIP Access.

In his initial report, Levin said McFarland "recalled that he was hoping to create a system that would create a cash flow permitting him to pay back investors. He did not feel that what he did was wrong but admitted that he hid his involvement in the ticket venture because his reputation had been tarnished by the festival."

Officials with the U.S. Attorney's Office jumped on the statement and sent a letter to McFarland's lawyer saying the statement was evidence that McFarland had not admitted blame on the fraud charges, despite a guilty plea months before.

"We believe that McFarland's statements to Dr. Levin show his failure to accept responsibility for his criminal conduct at NYC VIP Access," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristy Greenberg with the Southern District of New York wrote. "Accordingly, we would plan to oppose any acceptance of responsibility point reduction as part of his Guidelines calculation."

Greenberg said the government would drop the issue if Dr. Levin's report was withdrawn from the case. McFarland's attorneys declined the offer and Dr. Levin issued a follow up statement days later.

"In terms of his belief regarding the wrongfulness of his actions, this passage refers to his belief at the time he undertook the ticket venture. At that time, he did not believe it was wrong because his goal was to make restitution," Levin wrote. "At the time I met with him on August 2, 2018, he told me that he had pled guilty to both charges and expressed remorse for his actions related to the festival and the ticket venture."

McFarland is set to be sentenced Thursday on the fraud charges for both Fyre Fest and NYC VIP Access. Federal prosecutors have requested a minimum sentence of 15 years and eight months, arguing that McFarland spent at least $631,925.58 of Fyre's money on personal expenditures, including $10,000 a month on clothing from Barney's.

This article was originally published by Amplify.

Festivals 2018