NEW YORK, N.Y. – Bail was revoked Monday for the promoter of a failed music festival on a Bahamian island by a judge who called him a flight risk and a nonviolent danger to the community.
U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said Billy McFarland was a “serious risk of flight” after his re-arrest last week on new charges alleging that he tried to cheat some of the victims of his botched 2017 Fyre Festival on the Bahamian island of Exuma by trying to sell them bogus tickets to music, fashion and sporting events.
Buchwald also called McFarland “a danger, in a non-violent sense, to the community.”
Last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristy Greenberg successfully argued for McFarland’s detention, saying he’d told associates he would flee if Buchwald sentenced him to three years or more in prison.
Buchwald on Monday postponed until July 26 the sentencing of McFarland, which had been scheduled for Thursday, after Greenberg said court officers who prepared a pre-sentence report should be given a chance to reconsider their sentencing recommendation in light of the new charges.
In March, McFarland pleaded guilty to charges that he fraudulently enlisted 80 investors to pour $26 million into the bungled music festival. His plea deal called for him to serve between eight and 10 years in prison, though he can request leniency at sentencing.
Attorney Randall Jackson, representing McFarland, has asked Buchwald in a written submission to sentence McFarland to six months of home confinement or a “minimal period of incarceration,” saying his client is looking forward to spending “a good portion of his life working to repay investors for the money they lost.”
He added: “The infamy of his failed business endeavour and his related criminal conviction will be a punishment throughout his life.”
Buchwald said she intends to sentence McFarland to prison.
“In effect, his detention at this time is the beginning of his sentence,” she said.
The new charges against McFarland, 26, accuse him of bilking 15 victims late last year of over $100,000 by selling non-existent tickets to events including a Cleveland Cavaliers game that would include a team dinner with LeBron James.
In papers filed Monday, Greenberg wrote that when McFarland learned he was being investigated for new crimes, he told three witnesses with knowledge of his criminal conduct not to speak to FBI agents or to tell them that they had lawyers even though they did not. She said he also told them to report any encounters with agents to him.