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Prosecutors Want Fyre Fest Promoter to Get Prison

They say Billy McFarland has duped investors out of $26M
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 3, 2018 7:19 PM CDT
Billy McFarland leaves federal court after his arraignment in New York on July 1, 2017.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(Newser) – Prosecutors urged a judge Wednesday to sentence the promoter of a botched, highly publicized music festival in the Bahamas to over 15 years in prison, the AP reports. In a written filing in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors said Billy McFarland was "far more interested in the fame and notoriety generated by the festival than he was in paying back investors and his employees." The 2017 Fyre Festival, promoted as an ultra-luxurious event and "the cultural experience of the decade," was supposed to take place over two spring weekends on the Bahamian island of Exuma. Customers who paid $1,200 to over $100,000 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 and cheese sandwiches. Customers lashed out on social media with #fyrefraud.

The bust was an embarrassment after it was promoted on social media by models and celebrities including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski. McFarland has twice pleaded guilty to charges. First, he admitted earlier this year he defrauded investors. Weeks later, he pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a ticket-selling scam that occurred after his initial arrest. Prosecutors said McFarland should not receive leniency, in part because he "brazenly dreamed up a new scheme targeting the same victims" while he was free on bail after his initial arrest. The government also cited examples of lies McFarland told over 80 investors to get them to pour over $26 million into his schemes. Prosecutors said he used the money to live lavishly, and the public needed to be protected "from McFarland's next scam."

(Read more Fyre Festival stories.)

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