Fyre Festival fraudster Billy McFarland released from prison early

Billy McFarland, the fraudster behind the ill-fated Fyre Festival, was sprung from prison this spring after serving less than four years of a six-year sentence in connection with his disastrous 2017 Caribbean retreat.

McFarland, 30, was released on March 30 and transferred to community confinement where he was expected to remain through August, TMZ reported Wednesday.

The Short Hills, New Jersey native had pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud in March 2018 for using bogus documents to entice investors into giving him money for the sham festival he planned with Ja Rule. He originally faced up to 20 years in prison.

As part of his plea deal, McFarland agreed to a forfeiture order of $26 million to reimburse his many victims.

Just months later, McFarland also pleaded guilty to selling fake tickets to events like the Met Gala and Burning Man, swindling more victims out of about $100,000.

McFarland had duped about 80 investors and thousands of festival goers who paid up to $12,000 to attend what was billed as a luxury music festival on the Bahamas island of Great Exuma.

Customers were promised an extravagant all-inclusive experience featuring performances from dozens of musical acts like Pusha T and Blink-182, gourmet food and luxury accommodations.

This photo provided by Jake Strang shows mattress and tents set up for attendees of the Fyre Festival, Friday, April 28, 2017 in the Exuma islands, Bahamas.
Billy McFarland was infamous for swindling Fyre Festival attendees and investors.
Jake Strang via AP

The jet-setters arrived at the Fyre Festival to instead find no musical entertainment, prison-grade cheese sandwiches and FEMA disaster tents.

The fiasco was immortalized by several documentaries. In a 2021 jailhouse interview, McFarland blamed the dire situation on the “unrealistic time frame” he set for the festival in.

“[There’s] no excuse and I wish I could have just woken up one of those mornings in the beginning and I just had stopped,” he said.

Guests who paid for luxury tents at the Fyre Festival were greeted with mountains of trash next to their campsites.
Guests who paid for luxury tents at the Fyre Festival were greeted with mountains of trash next to their campsites.
Lee/Prahl/ Splash News

At the time of McFarland’s sentencing, a Dutchess County man who was duped out of $180,000 told a Manhattan federal judge that a six-year bid was far too lenient for the con man.

“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,” John Nemeth said in 2018.

Another view of the disastrous Fyre Festival.
Another view of the disastrous Fyre Festival.
Designer Mitch Pergason/@stylebymitch

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