Disastrous Fyre Festival Leads To Guilty Plea For Wire Fraud

Fyre Festival founder William McFarland faces prison after a guilty plea.

William McFarland, founder and promoter behind the now infamous Fyre Festival recently pled guilty to wire fraud. The plea bargain allows McFarland to skip a trial where he could have faced additional charges (such as money laundering and embezzlement) and the likely possibility of jail time in excess of 40 years with a guilty verdict.

Sentencing recommendations from Mr. McFarland’s attorneys and the federal prosecutors handling the matter – submitted to United States District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald to consider prior to the June 2018 sentencing hearing – suggest that a sentence of eight to ten years is appropriate. Any prison time McFarland serves is in addition to the civil penalties, notably a forfeiture order seeking recoupment of over $26 million lost by investors and vendors in relation to the festival.

The Fyre Festival, touted as a music lovers’ luxurious dream getaway in the Bahamas, complete with huge suites, gourmet meals and mingling with artists, was likely a sham from the start. Though contracts were signed with such artists as Blink-182 and Ja Rule (who was actually a partner in the festival), McFarland never secured loans or insurance policies that he used to entice investors, nor had his talent promotion business been nearly as successful as he claimed. In fact, his company had only secured $57,000 in profit in the year prior to the festival. Accommodation arrangements weren’t made, caterers weren’t hired until the last minute, and many areas of the festival grounds had no electricity, wi-fi or cell service.

The charges McFarland faced

In essence, prosecutors alleged that McFarland was running an old-fashioned Ponzi scheme to defraud his investors, vendors and partners in the venture. His fraudulent assertions, such as falsely saying he’d secured funding from well-known banks and that he’d sold off a private credit card company he founded, allowed him to entice investors into giving him tens of millions of dollars and to hire vendors to handle everything from ticketing for the festival to food services and construction on site.

Because he used cellphones and texting to communicate with potential investors, wire fraud charges were included in the litany of allegations he faced prior to the March 2018 guilty plea. Only time will tell if his attorneys’ sentencing recommendations will be followed, and if he’ll spend more than the requested eight to ten years in prison.

If you find yourself in the same situation as William McFarland, facing numerous serious federal white collar criminal charges, you need an aggressive defense from an experienced attorney like Frank A. Rubino. You can reach his office toll-free at 866-718-3994 or send an email to get started today.

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