Failed Fyre Festival founder foiled, forfeits six years (and $26 million)

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As the summer of grift has rolled on into a fraudster’s fall filled with new schemes and financial chicanery that are seemingly revealed daily, one storyline has remained relatively consistent: the ongoing legal troubles of convicted Fyre Festival founder and confidence man Billy McFarland. Vice News reports that McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison with three years of supervised release today, and he was “ordered to forfeit $26,182,386, though it’s unclear how much of that, if any, he currently has.”

The sentence was handed down after McFarland pled guilty to a total of four counts of wire fraud earlier this year as part of the fallout from 2017’s failed Fyre Festival and the fake ticket scam he pulled while out on bail, NYC VIP Access. Through NYC VIP Access, McFarland managed to scam even more people out of “a minimum of about $150,000,” the New York Times reported, by selling fraudulent tickets to events like The Grammys — tickets McFarland obviously didn’t have. The Times also reports that two people who flew to this year’s Grammys with McFarland’s tickets in hand were turned away at the door.

As Vice News reports, McFarland seemed pretty upset at his sentencing:

“The remorse I feel is crushing,” McFarland said, wearing a khaki prison jumpsuit and glasses before a packed courtroom of his family and victims. “I lived every day with the weight of knowing that I literally destroyed the lives of my friends and family.”

McFarland said “I’m sorry” multiple times during his sentencing hearing and begged U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald for leniency as his sister and mother wept and his father held his head in his hands. McFarland said he had faced violence in prison so far and that “the best way to be sorry is through my future actions.”

The judge wasn’t buying it, even after McFarland’s family begged for leniency — they said he was recently diagnosed with an untreated bipolar disorder — in a scene a little reminiscent of the penultimate episode of Netflix’s Maniac. By way of reply, Judge Buchwald gave this amazing quote: “It is my conclusion based on all the submissions that the defendant is a serial fraudster and that to date, his fraud, like a circle, has no ending.”

McFarland’s sentence, on the other hand, has an ending much sooner than it could have been: Vice reports that the maximum charges he faced could have included 20 years in prison.