Fyre Festival Founder Claims Mental Health Issues Caused Him to Scam

Billy McFarland's partner, Ja Rule, still says the "idea was f---ing beyond brilliant."

fyre festival
Billy McFarland (Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

A lawyer for the organizer of last year’s infamous Fyre Festival is claiming that mental health issues are behind his client’s criminal behavior, reports Buzzfeed News. 

An attorney for Billy McFarland asked the judge for leniency in the promoter’s upcoming sentencing. He cited two psychiatrists’ reports that diagnosed his client with a mood disorder, “bipolar-related disorder,” ADHD, and alcohol abuse. Those conditions altered McFarland’s behavior and led to “delusional beliefs of having special and unique talents that will lead to fame and fortune,” his lawyer argued, according to Buzzfeed. 

The psychiatrists determined that McFarland was experiencing “mania or hypomania,” and also was exhausted or overwrought because he had trouble sleeping, thus “had a diminished capacity to foresee the consequences of his actions.”

In March, McFarland pleaded guilty to defrauding investors and vendors in connection to the fake music festival he hosted in the Bahamas. In total, he scammed them out of $26 million. While on bail this past summer, McFarland was charged in connection to another scam, in which he sold nearly $100,000 in fake tickets to marquee events like the 2018 Met Gala, Burning Man, Coachella and the Grammy Awards. He pleaded guilty to those charges as well.

The 26-year-old is set to be sentenced in Manhattan federal court on Oct. 11, and could face up to 14 years in prison.

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