UPDATED 7/2/17 3:15 p.m. ET: Fyre Festival organizer William “Billy” McFarland has been released on $300,000 bail after spending at least one night in a New York detention center following his arrest on wire fraud charges.
“The judge, Kevin N. Fox of United States District Court in Manhattan, set Mr. McFarland’s bail at $300,000, to be secured by $50,000 in cash or property,” reported Ben Sisario of the New York Times. “Mr. McFarland’s lawyer, Sabrina P. Shroff, said that he had been released after the hearing on Saturday, and that he had one week to satisfy the bail conditions.”
The Times also reports Shroff is a public defender, and Shroff told reporters McFarland was unable to pay his previous lawyers enough to continue representing him.
McFarland’s assets, or lack thereof, will likely be a point of contention during the trial. An unsealed, Department of Justice criminal complaint against McFarland released Friday, accused McFarland of misrepresenting his assets and his company's worth to convince investors to financially back the Fyre Festival.
See original story below.
The disastrous Fyre Festival from this spring that resulted in hilarious memes and a very public dragging of Ja Rule, will potentially have more serious results for its founder, Billy McFarland. Friday, the Department of Justice announced the unsealing of a criminal complaint charging McFarland with wire fraud.
“As alleged, William McFarland promised a ‘life changing’ music festival but in actuality delivered a disaster,” acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said. “McFarland allegedly presented fake documents to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival. Thanks to the investigative efforts of the FBI, McFarland will now have to answer for his crimes.”
In April, the inaugural Fyre Festival was canceled at the last minute, leaving some attendees stranded in the Bahamas, as paid celebrity promoters and previously booked music acts distanced themselves from the event.
The charge of wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, though the DOJ noted the potential sentencing was only disclosed for illustrative purposes.
According to the unsealed complaint, Fyre Media earned less than $60,000 in revenue from approximately 60 artist bookings between 2016 and 2017. However, the DOJ accuses McFarland of telling investors that Fyre Media earned millions of dollars in revenue from thousands of artist bookings from at least July 2016 until April 2017. The report went on to blast McFarland for providing “materially false” information to investors and putting on a festival that was “widely deemed to have been a failure.”
You can read the entire criminal complaint against McFarland and Fyre Media LLC at the Department of Justice website.