Ja Rule was left with egg on his face after his high-end Bahamas festival went bust last year. But the rapper’s partner Billy McFarland appears to be taking the fall. He’s pleaded guilty to two fraud charges.
Ja, real name Jeffrey Bruce Atkins, was neither arrested nor charged, but because of his notoriety he bore the brunt of the public relations fallout.
Now it turns out McFarland was the mastermind behind the fraud, for which he could face up to 40 years in prison.
He admitted using fake documents to persuade investors to put more than $25.9 million into Fyre Media Inc., which he created to host the festival, according to the BBC.
“McFarland repeatedly made materially false statements to investors about Fyre Media’s revenue and income, and manipulated Fyre Media’s financial statements and supporting documentation to hide Fyre Media’s true financial condition,” according to a U.S. Justice Department charging document.
Revelers paid thousands of dollars for their tickets, only to arrive on the island and discover “half-built cabanas that were actually disaster relief tents”, low-quality food and luggage from shipping containers dumped on the ground.
The festival was quickly cancelled, leaving guests stranded at various airports in the United States and the Caribbean.
The festival was due to run over two weekends and was billed as a “cultural moment created from an alchemic blend of music, art and food”.
Blink-182 cancelled their headlining appearance, saying in a statement at the time: “We’re not confident that we would have what we need to give you the quality of performances we always give fans.”
McFarland pleaded guilty Tuesday (Mar. 6) in Manhattan federal court in New York City.
He admitted he “conducted a scheme to defraud individuals by inducing them to invest millions of dollars in Fyre Media,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
In all, 80 investors lost more than $20 million. But, hey, Blink-182 didn’t come off that badly McFarland blew $150,000 to book a luxury yacht for the band.