According to reports, entrepreneur and Fyre Festival co-founder Bill McFarland has been arrested on fraud charges, and will face prosecution for his role in the high-profile botched music festival. McFarland, 25, partnered with rapper Ja Rule in creating the Fyre Festival, which ultimately fell apart in myriad ways, leaving attendees temporarily stranded, and thousands of dollars lighter in their pockets.
McFarland has reportedly been charged with wire fraud, with prosecutors alleging he falsely represented the festival to investors as having brought in millions through booking performers, when it had actually brought in less than $60,000. Joon Kim, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, released a statement on Friday explaining why the Department of Justice charged McFarland.
When attendees arrived at the island site of the much-hyped festival, what they found was anything but luxury and excitement. As documented in photos that spread across social media, the lodgings consisted of rows of nondescript white tents.
In a particularly glaring series of images, the food ― initially meant to be provided by the well-regarded STARR Catering Group, which pulled out of the festival prior to its start date ― consisted of American cheese, slices of bread, and a light mattering of salad.
The food pictures in particular swept through social media, an early indication to observers that something had gone wrong with the festival. Before too long, it became a full-blown viral story, with plenty of the ill-fated attendees tweeting and photographing their shoddy surroundings.
The potential consequences for McFarland are serious. If he's convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison. It's unclear if there will be any legal consequences for Ja Rule ― real name Jeffrey Atkins ― but his camp reportedly doesn't think so.
According to The Los Angeles Times, an attorney for Atkins says he has not been charged, and she doesn't believe he's a target of the prosecution. In the immediate aftermath of the festival's collapse, the 41-year-old rapper tweeted a statement insisting he was "heartbroken" by what happened, saying that the festival was "not a scam."