The promoter who pleaded guilty to scamming investors in last year’s Fyre Festival concert fiasco was charged Tuesday with ripping off ticket buyers in a new $100,000 scam while awaiting sentencing on the old one.
Prosecutors said William McFarland, 26, who pleaded guilty in March to a $26 million Fyre Festival rip off, sold tickets he didn’t have to high-end events ranging from the Super Bowl and Grammy Awards to a Cleveland Cavaliers game and team dinner with LeBron James.
Last year, McFarland promoted the Fyre Festival on the Bahamian island of Exhuma as a luxury concert event for well-heeled millennials, but it turned into a mess that left concertgoers stranded on a poorly provisioned island.
When he pleaded guilty to misrepresenting his finances and the event’s prospects to investors, he said he had gotten in over his head by underestimating costs and told the judge, “I deeply regret my actions.” His sentencing was scheduled for June 21.
The new charges say that, while out on bail on the Fyre Festival case since mid-2017, McFarland formed a new company called NYC VIP Access to carry out the ticket scam — and used a spreadsheet of wealthy Fyre Festival ticket buyers to target his sales pitches.
Pitching nonexistent tickets that also included the Met Gala put on by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Coachella music festival in the Southern California desert, and Burning Man 2018, a countercultural event in Nevada, the $100,000 fraud allegedly involved 15 ticket investors.
McFarland used employees as fronts to operate the company, according to the criminal complaint, directing them from behind the scenes.
At a bail hearing late Tuesday, prosecutors said employees told agents that McFarland had said he planned to flee if he was sentenced to more than 3 years in prison in the Fyre Festival case, while McFarland’s lawyer questioned the credibility of people caught up in the scam blaming him.
U.S. Magistrate Gabriel Gorenstein ordered McFarland detained pending his sentencing.