March 7, 2018

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Doomed Fyre Festival Founder Billy McFarland Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud, Facing 10 Years In Prison

Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Remember the notorious Fyre Festival disaster that the organizers tried to hide under the rug? Well one of last year's wildest and weirdest moments now has a darker update: its founder may be going to jail.

Billy McFarland, 26, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges on Tuesday for lying to over 80 investors who lost over $26 million, Associated Press reports. Bloomberg points out that each of MacFarland's charges (who is one of the main faces behind the Bahamas music festival) come with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, for a whopping total of 40 years spent behind bars. But he and his legal team wagered a plea deal with prosecutors where he will serve between eight and 10 years in prison. McFarland can also request leniency.

“I deeply regret my actions, and I apologize to my investors, team, family and supporters who I let down. I grossly underestimated the resources that would be necessary to hold an event of this magnitude, McFarland told U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald. "In an attempt to raise what I thought were needed funds, I lied to investors about various aspects of Fyre Media and my personal finances. Those lies included false documents and information.”

The festival's founder was first arrested last June with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of false bank statements, and plead not guilty that October. He has been free on $300,000 bail up until this recent court sentencing. The Fyre Festival nightmare began last April, when Ja Rule (who started the event with McFarland) sent out a bizarre apology for the "luxury" experience quickly turning into a horror movie. 

The festival was meant to begin on April 27, with acts like Blink-182 (who swiftly pulled out their headlining slot), Rae Sremmurd, Skepta, Desiigner, Tyga and Pusha T set to perform. The event was postponed (and then cancelled) after attendees claimed there was “barely any food or water or security or electricity” on the island and the organizers themselves being, well, unorganized. The festival was later hit with a $100 million lawsuit and was reportedly under FBI investigation. On Monday, new documents emerged showing all the outrageous purchases McFarland made despite the lack of running water. They included $18,208 on towels, $260,000 on carpet for the $470,000 tent city and $160,000 yacht as a perk for headliner Blink-182. 

Next, reminisce on a brighter festival moment where Hayley Kiyoko does her best Grinch impersonation and thanks her fans for her "Lesbian Jesus" title at Voodoo Fest 2017:

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