The Fyre Festival Founder’s Lawyer Says ‘Mental Illness’ Led To Poor Decisions

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Billy McFarland, the organizer of the infamously disastrous Fyre Festival, is in some significant trouble. In March, he pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, and is expected to face a sentence of eight to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $300,000. Now, his lawyer, Randall Jackson, wrote a letter to US District Judge Naomi Buchwald in which he claims that McFarland has “mental illness” and asks for leniency during his October 11 sentencing.

“Nothing in this case speaks to any malicious intent on his part,” Jackson wrote. “Just a sea of bad judgment, poor decisions, and the type of core instability that can only be explained by mental illness.”

In the letter, Jackson also says that McFarland experienced “manic or hypomanic” episodes and “delusional beliefs of having special and unique talents that will lead to fame and fortune.” The letter cites two psychological reports of McFarland, which say that “the combination of ADHD and hypomania resulted in his pattern of undertaking on multiple projects accompanied by unrealistic appraisals of success,” and that McFarland “had a diminished capacity to foresee the consequences of his actions.”

Back in March, McFarland was apologetic about the controversy, saying, “I deeply regret my actions, and I apologize to my investors, team, family and supporters who I let down. […] I grossly underestimated the resources that would be necessary to hold an event of this magnitude. In an attempt to raise what I thought were needed funds, I lied to investors about various aspects of Fyre Media and my personal finances. Those lies included false documents and information.”

The complete Fyre Festival story is a complex one, one that an upcoming documentary about the event will try to tell when it comes to Hulu at some point in 2019.