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Fyre Festival’s Billy McFarland pleads not guilty to fraud

By | Published on Wednesday 4 October 2017

Fyre Festival

Billy McFarland has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges, in relation to the funding of the ill-fated Fyre Festival he co-founded, reports Variety.

Fyre Festival, of course, was the music event due to take place on an island in the Bahamas in April and May this year. Marketed as a super luxurious experience, the festival collapsed just as people were arriving, as it became clear management hadn’t put in place the infrastructure for even a basic event, let alone the luxury set-up that had been promised.

The festival was co-founded by Ja Rule and Billy McFarland, who were also collaborating on a talent-booking app under the Fyre brand, which the abandoned island adventure was designed to promote. Since the event’s collapse, the Fyre companies and their founders have been on the receiving end of a stack of lawsuits from disgruntled ticket-buyers, suppliers and investors, in addition to McFarland’s criminal charges of fraud.

In that domain, McFarland is accused of two counts of wire fraud – for attempting to defraud both investors and vendors. There are also two additional charges of making false statements to a bank.

At a slightly delayed hearing yesterday, McFarland entered his not guilty plea. He also waived indictment, which means he will not have to stand before a jury. It also indicates that the two sides continue to seek a plea deal, which may mean the case never actually reaches trial.

Currently, the next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for 13 Dec, with the trial set to begin in early 2018.