Fyre Festival fraudster Billy McFarland released from federal prison early

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Fyre Festival organizer Billy McFarland, the admitted fraudster in the failed festival, has been released from federal prison custody and moved into a halfway house Wednesday, his lawyer says.

McFarland, 30, was transferred into "community confinement" in New York on March 30, the Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed to USA TODAY.

He is expected to remain there through August, the agency said, crediting The First Step Act Release for his early release.

The law "allows inmates to earn increased good conduct time," and "expands opportunities for inmate placement into residential reentry centers or home confinement."

Billy McFarland, the promoter of the failed Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, is being released from federal prison early.
Billy McFarland, the promoter of the failed Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, is being released from federal prison early.

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McFarland's attorney Jason Russo told USA TODAY the entrepreneur is "serving the remainder of his time in a halfway house in the New York City area" and "it’s anticipated that he will be there for approximately six months."

Russo also said that the Fyre Festival organizer is "putting together a team to organize and plan for projects that will allow him to generate the restitution for all those affected."

"This is his sole focus and priority at this time," Russo said.

McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison in October 2018 and will carry out three and a half years of the sentence. It is unclear if his early release will be followed by probation.

The entrepreneur acknowledged he defrauded investors of $26 million in the 2017 Fyre Festival and over $100,000 in a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme after his arrest in the scam.

The festival, billed as an ultra-luxurious event and “the cultural experience of the decade,” was supposed to take place over two spring 2017 weekends on the Bahamian island of Exuma. Models and celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski had promoted it on social media.

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Customers, who paid $1,200 to over $100,000 hoping to see Blink-182 and the hip-hop act Migos, arrived to learn musical acts were canceled. Their luxury accommodations and gourmet food consisted of leaky white tents and packaged food, prompting attendees to lash out on social media with the hashtag #fyrefraud.

The scandal was amplified after Netflix documentary "Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened" and Hulu's "Fyre Fraud" aired in 2019.

In August 2020, the U.S. Marshals announced that 126 items from the festival would be auctioned off, with proceeds going toward the victims of McFarland.

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“This Fyre Festival-branded clothing and other items that were seized from Billy McFarland were originally intended to be sold at the Fyre Festival itself but were kept by McFarland, with the intent to sell the items and use the funds to commit further criminal acts while he was on pre-trial release,” U.S. Marshal Ralph Sozio of the Southern District of New York said in a release at the time.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Billy McFarland released: Fyre Festival fraudster out of prison early

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