The founder of the infamous and disastrous Fyre Festival, Billy McFarland, is currently awaiting sentencing for a number of crimes. He pleaded guilty to defrauding investors and vendors in connection to Fyre Festival back in March. While out on bail for those charges, McFarland was charged in another scam involving selling fake tickets to exclusive events such as the Met Gala and Grammy Awards. He also pleaded guilty to these charges.
McFarland is scheduled to be sentenced October 11 in Manhattan federal court. He is facing up to 14 years in prison. A lawyer for McFarland sent a recent letter to the judge overseeing the case asking for leniency in the upcoming sentencing. His lawyer claims that mental health issues contributed to McFarland’s state of mind and led to his criminal behavior.
In the letter, his lawyer cited two psychiatrists’ reports that state McFarland has been diagnosed with some type of unspecified mood disorder, “bipolar related disorder, ADHA, and alcohol abuse. These mental health issues altered his behavior and resulted in “delusional beliefs of having special and unique talents that will lead to fame and fortune”.
Randall Jackson, McFarland’s attorney, wrote in the letter that, “Nothing in this case speaks to any malicious intent on his part, just a sea of bad judgment, poor decisions, and the type of core instability that can only be explained by mental illness.”
The psychiatrists’ analysis included in the letter said that McFarland was experiencing “mania or hypomania”, has difficulty sleeping, was exhausted and thus “had a diminished capacity to foresee the consequences of his actions.” The report also states that McFarland was “overwhelmed” with having to pay back the millions he scammed out of investors.
Billy McFarland’s partner in the Fyre Festival, rapper Ja Rule, still maintains that the “idea was fucking beyond brilliant”. In a recent interview, Ja Rule went on to state that he was not “ashamed” about how everything went down, which included attendees started on Exuma without real food or water with wet FEMA tents. He claimed, “These things in business happen.”
McFarland’s claims of unable to foresee the consequences don’t align with what Fyre Festival employees claim. Many say they repeatedly warned the founder about the lack of preparation and potential issues. McFarland’s response to the multiple employees that pointed out the red flags was “we’re going to be legends”.
Billy McFarland and Ja Rule are still facing a $100 million civil lawsuit. While attendees certainly did not receive the luxury music festival that they were promised, it’s the local Bahamians that truly got the worst of it. Local businesses that were hired for the festival have still yet to be paid and are unlikely to ever see a dollar.
It remains to be seen how this letter and mental health claims will include McFarland’s upcoming sentencing. His lawyer hopes for “a meaningful prison term” followed by “a longer period of supervised released so he can pursue mental health treatment”.