William “Billy” McFarland, the mastermind behind the Fyre Festival sham, has been released from solitary confinement after five and a half months.
McFarland was sentenced to six years in 2018 after pleading guilty to three counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud and one count of falsifying information to federal law enforcement following a scheme to host a two-weekend-long music festival in the Bahamas in 2017 that never came to fruition, costing customers and investors $26 million in losses, according to the Justice Department.
Attorney Jason Russo confirmed to Fox News that the 29-year-old has been transferred from FCI Elkton prison in Ohio to FTC Oklahoma City.
“At this time, Mr. McFarland is simply relieved to be out of solitary confinement,” Russo said in a statement. “This punitive action by the [Bureau of Prisons] was unwarranted and tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment.” McFarland was put in solitary confinement for giving a podcast interview from prison.
Ben Meisalas, a trial attorney at the Los Angeles law firm Geragos & Geragos, on Tuesday reached a $2 million settlement for 277 Fyre Festival ticket holders to secure about $7,220 each, which covers “any and all damages associated with purchasing a ticket to a Festival that never occurred, purchasing air and other travel to the Festival, plus incidental and related damages that arose as a result of the experience,” according to documents filed Tuesday in a Manhattan bankruptcy court.
McFarland and his business partner Jeffrey Atkins, otherwise known as rapper Ja Rule, in 2016 began promoting a music festival using savvy social media tactics that led customers to believe the event would be something it was not, court filings state.
The Fyre Festival team hired social media influencers “including socialite and model Kendall Jenner, as well as a number of other famous models like Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski” to promote the event, according to Tuesday’s filing.
“Ticket buyers were promised an exotic island adventure with luxury accommodations, gourmet food, the hottest musical acts and celebrity attendees. The unique social media marketing method employed by Fyre Festival tapped in on the power of FOMO (short for “fear of missing out”) and was extraordinarily successful amongst millennials, resulting in significant ticket sales,” the filing reads.
When festival-goers arrived at the location, however, they discovered that “none of the promised musical acts” were performing, “luxury accommodations turned out to be FEMA disaster relief tents” and food consisted of cheese sandwiches in Styrofoam containers.
TV streaming services Hulu and Netflix produced documentaries about the sham festival.