6 YRS. IN FYRE FRAUD
Break for concert scammer
The judge didn’t hold his feet to the Fyre.
The fraudster behind the failed Fyre Festival has been given a lenient six-year prison sentence for his part in the 2017 concert debacle promoted by celebrity Instagram models including Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid and Hailey Baldwin.
Billy McFarland, 26, accepted his fate Thursday in Manhattan Federal Court. He could have received nearly 20 years behind bars for the aborted music extravaganza in the Bahamas that he created with help from rapper Ja Rule.
“It is my conclusion that the defendant is a serial fraudster,” U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald said during sentencing. “To date, his fraud — like a circle — has no end.”
She rejected the defense’s assertion that McFarland was a confused young man who was in over his head.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristy Greenberg had asked the court to impose a sentence of 19 years and seven months.
She described the defendant as a compulsive liar with no respect for the law and warned “If he gets out soon, I have no doubt he’ll move onto the next scam.”
McFarland and his crying family members in the gallery appeared relieved as the judge imposed the relatively lax sentence.
Victim John Nemeth, 56, who works in construction and was defrauded out of $180,000 by McFarland, didn’t share their joy.
“(I’m) sick to my stomach. It was the most appalling thing that could happen. Six years when he should have gotten 20. It’s sad. I’m shocked,” Nemeth said. “He ruined a lot of people’s lives, and he can’t help himself. He’s going to continue.”
Nemeth said he invested his retirement money in the scam and now expects to be working into his 70s.
“He took my nest egg I’d been saving for 20 years to retire on. I’ve never invested in anything, and this’ll be the last time I invest — because I have nothing,” he said. “He took it all. I’ll be working until I’m at least 70, now. It’s sad.”
A lawyer for McFarland expressed gratitude that his client will be free again in his early 30s.
“We appreciate the careful consideration the court took of all the factors involved,” McFarland’s attorney said outside the courthouse.
“We’re happy that a sentence was imposed that’s going to allow Billy to become a useful contributor to his community when he gets out.”
The concert series promised VIP accommodations to those who made the trip to see bands including Blink 182 perform over a twoweekend period in April and May 2017.
It was aborted after its opening night, where attendees arrived to shoddy accommodations and a single performance by a local band.