6 YRS. IN FYRE FRAUD

Break for con­cert scam­mer

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY MOLLY CRANE-NEW­MAN AND BRIAN NIEMIETZ

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.

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