Back in the spring, the beachside festival in the Bahamas called Fyre Festival became the simultaneous viral nightmare and laughing stock of the internet. Back in December, famous swimsuit models and promoters, even Kendall Jenner, all began promoting the event and promising it to be the “cultural experience of the decade,” and even claimed that artists such as Pusha T, Tyga, and Desiigner would all be in attendance.
What followd was an incredibly confusing string of events. Blink 182 canceled, the festival was postponed, then was “fully postponed,” even though guests were already stranded on the island. And of course, social media flooded with posts showing the sheer amount of fraud going on in the event. Meals were simple (cold) cheese sandwiches, “geodomes,” looked more like relief tents. Only one act performed, a group of local musicians no one knew of. Guests bags were mishandled, there was theft, guests were stranded on the island as flights to and from the island were postponed. It was about as big of a disaster someone could imagine, so much so that the FBI got involved. Co-founder Ja Rule appears safe, but Fyre Media (the company that organizes the event) founder Billy McFarland is not looking so good.
McFarland was arrested back in June on two counts of wire fraud for actively misrepresenting his and his company’s income with false statements following an FBI statement. He has also charged of making false statements to overstate the company’s financial stability to potential investors, and made false claims about the festival insurance policies, as well as sharing fraudulent documents claiming that a bank approved a $3 million loan.
Faced with endless charges, including several civil lawsuits, McFarland has pled not guilty to charges of wire fraud and making false statements to a bank. The founder waived indictment, which eliminates the need to convene a grand jury, and the case will proceed on evidence collected by federal investigators. The government has two weeks to present their discovery to the defense, and the first pre-trial hearing is scheduled for December 13, and the trial will commence at some point in early 2018. Ja Rule has not been criminally charged as of yet by federal lawmakers, but is named as a defendant in several civil cases. The festival was also declared bankrupt by the U.S. Bankruptcy court.
Stay tuned as this debacle is far from over.