Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland was given an early release from prison in March, according to TMZ. The con artist was there serving his sentence for his scheme to dupe investors about the fraudulent Fyre Fest luxury musical festival in the Bahamas in 2017.
McFarland’s original sentence was six years in federal prison plus three years of supervised release, meaning he wouldn’t be out until 2024. His imprisonment came after he pleaded guilty in 2018 to two counts of wire fraud related to Fyre Fest.
However, after four years, McFarland was released on March 30. He was transferred to “community confinement,” likely a halfway house or a personal home, as the celebrity tabloid reported on Wednesday (May 18). He is due to stay there through August.
In 2017, Fyre Fest was presented as a music destination event by McFarland and his partner, the hip-hop artist Ja Rule. Its lineup initially boasted artists such as blink-182 and Pusha T over two weekends in April and May 2017. But trouble was signaled when artists began dropping out of the lineup ahead of the fest.
Then, the Fyre Fest concerts never got off the ground at all. In the end, the event amounted to only the now-infamous photo of a cheese sandwich presented to attendees in place of the “authentic island cuisine experience” they were promised.
blink-182 subsequently entered into litigation with Fyre Fest after the event tried to recoup the $500,000 concert fee it paid the pop-punk band. The group bowed out of the fest days before their scheduled appearance. U.S. Marshals auctioned off unused Fyre Fest branded merchandise.
McFarland was investigated by the FBI for fraud soon after the festival non-starter, according to The New York Times. He faced multiple lawsuits related to the incident.
On McFarland’s sentencing in 2018, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said, “Billy McFarland has shown a disturbing pattern of deception, which resulted in investors and customers losing over $26 million in two separate fraud schemes.”
The federal prosecutor continued, “As he had previously admitted, Billy McFarland did not deliver on his promises to his investors and customers. Today, McFarland found out the hard way that empty promises don’t lead to jet-setting, champagne and extravagant parties — they lead to federal prison.”
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