https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/01/arts ... nment.html
Fyre Festival Organizer Released on $300,000 Bail
Billy McFarland, the entrepreneur behind the disastrous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, lives in a $21,000-a-month penthouse apartment in Manhattan and drives a $110,000 Maserati. When he was arrested by federal agents on Friday on a charge of wire fraud, he was carrying $5,000 in cash.
Yet when Mr. McFarland, 25, made his first appearance before a magistrate judge on Saturday afternoon, he was represented by a public defender.
The judge, Kevin N. Fox of United States District Court in Manhattan, set Mr. McFarland’s bail at $300,000, to be secured by $50,000 in cash or property. Mr. McFarland’s lawyer, Sabrina P. Shroff, said that he had been released after the hearing on Saturday, and that he had one week to satisfy the bail conditions.
According to federal prisoner records, Mr. McFarland had spent the previous night in a Brooklyn detention center.
He appeared in court in a light blue T-shirt and black jeans and said nothing except when answering brief questions from the judge about whether he understood the process. His eyes appeared to be watering faintly as he looked toward his parents, who sat in the back of the courtroom, which was otherwise occupied by only court personnel, two F.B.I. agents and a handful of reporters.
The question of how much money Mr. McFarland still has was central to the hearing, whose purpose was to set bail and to inform Mr. McFarland of his rights.
After the collapse of the Fyre Festival in late April, when young music fans who had paid for a luxurious musical getaway and instead arrived to find a shantytown of tents on a darkened beach, Mr. McFarland hired a legal team to defend him against more than a dozen civil lawsuits.
He also retained a crisis public relations firm to manage a wave of negative media coverage.
At the hearing, Ms. Shroff said Mr. McFarland’s previous lawyers had not been paid enough to continue to represent him.
Public defenders are reserved for defendants with limited assets, and the government will often challenge whether those who apply for them really qualify, as they did in the case of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo who is currently incarcerated in New York.
Ms. Shroff also argued that Mr. McFarland was not a flight risk because he had not abandoned his home even after being served with a subpoena two months ago. After posting bail, she added, he would go to live with his parents, who are successful real estate developers in New Jersey.
But Kristy J. Greenberg, an assistant United States attorney, was skeptical that Mr. McFarland was out of money. He lived an “extremely lavish lifestyle,” she said, and added that the government’s investigation was still seeking answers about the assets of Mr. McFarland’s company, Fyre Media.
“There are real questions about where his money is,” Ms. Greenberg said at the hearing.
In a criminal complaint unsealed Friday, the government accused Mr. McFarland of operating a scheme to defraud investors by drastically overstating his wealth and the revenues of Fyre Media, whose main business was a website that allowed people to book celebrities for concerts and parties.
In one example of these misrepresentations, the complaint said that Mr. McFarland had doctored a Scottrade account statement to say that he owned $2.5 million in a particular company’s stock, when in reality his position was worth only $1,500.
The investigation was continuing, Ms. Greenberg said, and while the complaint identified only two people who had invested $1.2 million into Mr. McFarland’s venture, investigators believe that there may have been as many as 85 investors in total.
Ms. Greenberg also complained that Mr. McFarland had not yet filled out a required financial affidavit listing his assets. But Judge Fox said that Mr. McFarland had another week to submit that form.
A preliminary hearing for the case was scheduled for July 31.