The promoter of the failed Fyre Festival in the Bahamas—once billed as the "cultural experience of the decade"—pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges Tuesday, agreeing to serve up to a decade in prison for lying to investors who lost over $26 million. Billy McFarland, 26, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court in a deal with prosecutors that suggested he serve between eight and 10 years in prison. He can request leniency. "I deeply regret my actions," a chastened McFarland told US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald. He said he planned to organize "a legitimate festival" when he planned the Fyre Festival as an outgrowth of an app he launched in May 2016 to help concert promoters and private individuals directly book musicians for concerts, reports the AP.
"I grossly underestimated the resources that would be necessary to hold an event of this magnitude," he said. "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 was promoted as an ultra-luxurious event on the Bahamian island of Exuma over two weekends last April and May, and event organizers coaxed people into buying ticket packages ranging from $1,200 to over $100,000. Customers hoping to see Blink-182 and the hip hop act Migos arrived to learn music acts were canceled. Their luxury accommodations and gourmet food consisted of leaky white tents, cheese sandwiches, and no beer. Sentencing is set for June 21.