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Strategy Fyre Festival founder sentenced to 6 years in prison after pleading guilty to defrauding investors out of millions of dollars in various ticketing schemes

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Billy McFarland, the founder of the Fyre Festival, was awaiting sentencing for several months after pleading guilty to wire-fraud charges against him in March. In June, McFarland was arrested on separate charges of selling fake tickets through a different company, NYC VIP Access.

Fyre play


(YouTube/Fyre Festival)

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  • Billy McFarland, the 26-year-old founder of the Fyre Festival, was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday.
  • McFarland pleaded guilty in March to wire-fraud charges in relation to the Fyre Festival, which last year instantly became infamous after hundreds of attendees were left stranded in the Bahamas.
  • In June, McFarland was arrested again on charges of selling fake tickets through a different company, called NYC VIP Access, starting in late 2017. He pleaded guilty to those charges in July.

Billy McFarland, the 26-year-old founder of the nightmarish Fyre Festival that left hundreds of attendees stranded in the Bahamas last year, has been sentenced to six years in prison.

"The remorse I feel is crushing," McFarland said during his sentencing on Thursday, Vice News reported. "I lived every day with the weight of knowing that I literally destroyed the lives of my friends and family."

According to Vice, victims of his scams also testified against him. One investor, Joe Nemeth, said McFarland had "financially ruined" his and his wife's lives.

"It took me 20 years of saving my lunch money to save $180,000," Nemeth said in court on Thursday, according to Vice. "I hope the justice system has the last laugh at Mr. McFarland."

McFarland had been awaiting sentencing since pleading guilty in March to wire-fraud charges in relation to the Fyre Festival.

In July, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that McFarland, two companies he founded (Fyre Media and Magnises), a former senior executive, and a former contractor had agreed to settle charges against them in the Fyre Festival case. The SEC said that McFarland admitted to defrauding more than 100 investors out of $27.4 million and that he agreed to a permanent ban on being an officer or director of a company.

Later that month, he pleaded guilty to charges in a separate fraudulent scheme in which he sold tickets to exclusive events such as the 2018 Met Gala, Burning Man, Coachella, the Grammy Awards, and the Super Bowl through a company called NYC VIP Access starting in late 2017.

"McFarland concealed his association with NYC VIP Access so that he could solicit customers of Fyre Festival and his other company Magnises to buy tickets without raising suspicion," the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said in a press release.

In September, McFarland's attorney, Randall Jackson, asked the judge to give McFarland a lighter sentence, citing a psychiatrist report that said he had been diagnosed with a bipolar-related disorder, The Associated Press reported. According to the AP, Jackson said McFarland had "delusional beliefs of having special and unique talents that will lead to fame and fortune."

Fyre Festival, which promised attendees a VIP experience when they set off to Great Exuma in the Bahamas, turned into a nightmare as they encountered delayed flights, half-built huts to sleep in, and cold cheese sandwiches to eat.