Fyre Festival Promoter Billy McFarland Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Billy McFarland attends The 23rd Annual Watermill Center Summer Benefit & Auction at The Watermill Center on July 30, 2016 in Water Mill, New York. 

He had initially pled not guilty to the charges.

Fyre Festival organizer Billy McFarland has pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud, Billboard has confirmed. 

Following an FBI investigation into the disastrous Bahaman music festival, McFarland was arrested last June and then pled not guilty to charges of wire fraud and making false statements to a bank in October. When McFarland waived the indictment then, it meant that a grand jury would not be convened and it was likely a plea deal would be sought even though the case was moving forward to trial. Now, on Tuesday (March 6), a spokesperson at the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York told Billboard that McFarland had accepted a plea deal. 

"As he admitted today, William McFarland tendered fake documents to induce investors and a ticket vendor to put more than $26 million into his company and the disastrous Fyre Festival," said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in a statement. "He now awaits sentencing for his admitted swindle."

 

McFarland's sentencing is expected for July, with each fraud charge carrying a potential sentence of 20 years in prison. Those terms would most likely be carried out concurrently. 

Fyre Festival had been promoted as an exclusive private island getaway with models, catered food and performances by Blink-182, Migos, Desiigner and others, but it turned into a nightmare for many when attendees showed up to discover the event was a sham without food, shelter or stages.

Festivals 2018