Fyre Festival Founder: ‘I’ve Lived Every Day in Prison With Pain’
Fyre Festival co-organizer Billy McFarland, who just began his prison sentence, atoned for defrauding hundreds of people. “I am incredibly sorry for my collective actions and will right the wrongs I have delivered to my family, friends, partners, associates and, you, the general public,” McFarland said to People.
McFarland was found guilty of defrauding Fyre Festival investors out of a collective $26 million, while he also sold a luxury music festival experience to an array of fans who ended up on a half-deserted island with poor shelter and accommodations. Prior to his October sentencing, McFarland also pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and two counts of running a sham ticket-selling business. Federal prosecutors called McFarland “the consummate con artist.”
In the interview, McFarland attempted to explain himself, saying, “I’ve always sought – and dreamed – to accomplish incredible things by pushing the envelope to deliver for a common good, but I made many wrong and immature decisions along the way and I caused agony,” McFarland said. “As a result, I’ve lived every day in prison with pain, and I will continue to do so until I am able to make up for some of this harm through work and actions that society finds respectable.”
Following his six-year prison stint, McFarland will serve three years of supervised release. The judge also ordered him to forfeit over $26 million. In addition to his own legal problems, Fyre Festival and McFarland are facing a slew of class action lawsuits, and in July two attendees were awarded $5 million in damages after suing McFarland.
Despite jail time and the massive mountain of legal issues that await him on the other side, McFarland remained hopeful. “I’m devastated, but accepting, and I’ll use this opportunity to live my apology and become the family member, friend, business person and good citizen I should have been all along,” he said. “I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me every step of the way. Your love keeps me focused. Your hope keeps me motivated. Earning your forgiveness will fuel the rest of my days.”
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