Infamous Fyre Festival promoter Billy McFarland was sentenced Thursday in Manhattan federal court to six years in the slammer for the botched event in the Bahamas.
The 26-year-old scam artist — who pleaded guilty in two cases since his 2017 music fest he planned with Ja Rule fell apart – had faced up to 20 years at his sentencing.
“I’m sorry, I am deeply sorry for my mistakes,” McFarland told Judge Naomi Buchwald in court, where his father sat crying along with other family members.
“I betrayed the trust of investors, family and even the court. I come from an incredible family — a loving environment, they [family] tried to teach me the value of family and friends,” added McFarland, who also faces a $26 million forfeiture order.
John Nemeth, 56, a Dutchess County resident who lost an $180,000 investment in the festival, addressed the media after making a victim impact statement in court.
“I am shocked. I was hoping he was going to get 10 to 15 years. He ruined a lot of people’s lives and he can’t help himself — he is going to continue,” Nemeth said.
Defense attorney Randall Jackson told reporters that the sentence will allow McFarland “to become a useful contributor to his community when he gets out.”
In March, McFarland copped to two counts of wire fraud for using bogus documents to lure investors to what was billed as a luxe festival on the island of Exuma island in April and May of 2017.
About four months later, the Short Hills, NJ, native pleaded guilty to another fraud in a fake ticket-selling scheme he admitted to carrying out while he was out on bail.
He earned about $100,000 by selling the bogus tickets to exclusive events such as the 2018 Met Gala and Burning Man.
Among his victims were high-salaried attendees from his disastrous music fest, which he had promised would feature Blink-182, the hip hop act Migos, as well as luxury accommodations and gourmet grub.
Instead, the guests who arrived to leaky white tents and cheese sandwiches learned that the music acts were canceled.
McFarland’s attorney had urged leniency, saying the con artist suffers from untreated bipolar disorder and “severe alcohol abuse.”
On Thursday, Buchwald rejected the use of mental illness and alcoholism as an excuse for his behavior.
“Neither diagnosis is an excuse or justification of extended criminal conduct,” she said.
“This was not a good idea gone bad, the bad intent was long withstanding,” she continued. “It is my conclusion based on all the submissions that the defendant is a serial fraudster and that to date his fraud, like a circle, has no ending.”
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