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Convicted Fyre Festival promoter pleads guilty to new scam

William “Billy” McFarland, 26, faces a likely sentence between 11 and 14 years under advisory federal guidelines for all his crimes at a September sentencing in front of U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald, according to his plea agreement.

In addition to reaffirming his earlier guilty plea to scamming buyers in last summer’s concert-gone-awry on the Bahamian island of Exhuma, McFarland on Thursday admitted to charges that he later “sold” tickets he didn’t have to high-profile events like the Super Bowl, the Grammy Awards and an NBA event with LeBron James.

“I know this is wrong, and I knew I broke the law,” said McFarland, who has been locked up since being charged in June.  His parents watched the proceeding..

The Fyre Festival, promoted as a luxury concert event in the Caribbean for well-off millennials, ended in failure with attendees virtually stranded on a poorly provisioned island.

In March, McFarland pleaded guilty to misrepresenting his finances and the event’s prospects to 80 investors. “I deeply regret my actions,” he told Buchwald at the time.

But in June, he was rearrested. Prosecutors alleged that starting in December 2017, operating behind the scenes of a front company called NYC VIP Access, he masterminded a scheme to sell nonexistent tickets to customers, including former Fyre Festival attendees.

Prosecutors said 30 investors were scammed for at least $150,000, on events that also included the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Met Gala, the Coachella music festival in California, and Burning Man 2018, a Nevada countercultural event.

In addition to defrauding ticket buyers, he also pleaded guilty to bank fraud for forging a check on a bank account that was in the name of an employee, and to lying to federal agents.

Because of enhanced penalties for committing the new crimes while out on bail, he faces a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison on those counts and, combined with the possible sentence on the earlier charges, faces a total of 115 years.

“McFarland’s fraudulent schemes cost real people real money, and now he faces real time in federal prison for his crimes,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement issued after the plea.


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