Fyre Festival organizer Billy McFarland reportedly pleads guilty to fraud

William “Billy” McFarland, one of the organizers behind April 2017’s disastrous Fyre Festival, a luxury music fest in the Bahamas that descended into chaos, has reportedly pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, according to Bloomberg. McFarland, who initially pleaded not guilty to fraud charges back in October, will reportedly serve eight to 10 years in prison under a plea deal.

Fyre Festival was marketed as a “cultural moment” and promised festival-goers lodging in “modern, eco-friendly, geodesic domes.” Instead, attendees who shelled out hefty sums to attend the festival arrived on Great Exuma island to find, as the New Yorker reported in May, “a luxury nightmare,” complete with soggy tents, meager food offerings and, eventually, a panicked rush to get flights back to the mainland.

It later became clear that Fyre Festival was just as chaotic behind the scenes: Leaked documents obtained by Mic in 2017 showed that Fyre executives, including McFarland, were aware of many issues before the festival started, including potential problems with bathrooms and housing at the festival site. A caterer pulled out of the event just weeks before the festival was scheduled to take place.

Pictures and firsthand accounts from Fyre Festival
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Pictures and firsthand accounts from Fyre Festival
Newly surfaced emails show the Fyre Festival organizers were notified of urgent concerns weeks before the festival. https://t.co/ydbUTBbmNL
Here's the "culinary experience" we got for our artists pass at Fyre Festival. https://t.co/Kk9q9uvkX0
The dinner that @fyrefestival promised us was catered by Steven Starr is literally bread, cheese, and salad with dr… https://t.co/GjBxQygxV9
FBI to investigate Fyre Festival, report says https://t.co/cxBvmq9GwR https://t.co/xtOzfD7w8P
One of the kitchens at Fyre Festival. #fyre #fyrefest #fyrefestival https://t.co/gQIpwxrw6S
A view of the luxury food court with some luxury school bus transportation at Fyre Festival. #fyre #fyrefestival https://t.co/XL3PtRw8q0
These are the secure lockers at Fyre Fest. They forgot to tell us we needed locks. #fyrefestival #fyrefest https://t.co/Tqyjqbg2Gy
Food court so lit rn at Fyre Fest. #fyrefestival #fyre https://t.co/sxEX4OduTR
Luxury trash receptacles at the luxury bar (with no beer). No shoes, no shirt, pajama pants, no problem.… https://t.co/aBWohANKnb
The infrastructure was nonexistent, and the festival staff either a skeleton crew or MIA. https://t.co/8Gh6NevsFI
@FyreFraud Just a reminder of what "The Duo" was originally sold as https://t.co/gKz90zNBvu
UPDATE: they are having us sign papers for full refunds. They are just pieces of computer paper but I mean...refunds https://t.co/oNa8EIojl1
Internal emails appear to show there were many warning signs ahead of Fyre Festival. Billy McFarland & Ja Rule now… https://t.co/8nsRzaczKN
The line of ex Fyre Festers at the Exuma International Airport. Yes that's throw up. #fyre #fyrefestival https://t.co/jSZHg0F0Kn
Inside the Fyre Festival fiasco: the reporters who wrote our exposé tell their stories on Popcast https://t.co/fUvLFd97Dy
Here are a few pics of the luxury cuisine options. The food on the right was pretty good. #fyrefestival https://t.co/aJkxtypQND
The luxury stage was so lit. Sadly, there was no beer at the luxury bar. They didn't run out. They never had any to… https://t.co/gw6l49sPKo
Luggage pickup was great. They brought the bags in and guests got to unload them for fun. In the dark. It built cha… https://t.co/AaRS25p3JY
They finally opened the doors to let some air in. The guy is ok. #fyrefestival https://t.co/D7j5qtzsGi
Also, we found a notebook from one of the Fyre Fest planners on the ground. It is amazing. #fyrefestival #fyre https://t.co/jFib0nO2RW

An executive who had worked alongside McFarland later said in an interview with Mic that McFarland promised vendors money that the festival just didn’t have. In June, McFarland was arrested and charged with wire fraud following an FBI investigation.

In a statement announcing the charges, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim said McFarland “promised a ‘life-changing’ music festival but in actuality delivered a disaster. McFarland allegedly presented fake 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.”

McFarland’s sentencing hearing is reportedly scheduled for June 21.

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