Fyre Festival Mastermind Billy McFarland Asks for Early Prison Release Amid Pandemic

Billy McFarland - Galore x Magnises Fashion Week Dinner 2015 - Getty - H 2017
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McFarland's preexisting health conditions were the most pressing matter, his lawyers argued.

Billy McFarland, the notorious mastermind behind the Fyre Festival debacle in 2017, on Tuesday asked to be released from prison early amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In court documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, McFarland, through his lawyers, asked U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald for compassionate release due to his pre-existing conditions, which "make him particularly vulnerable to catching and suffering from severe or fatal consequences of the virus." McFarland is housed at the Elkton federal prison in Ohio where four prisoners have died due to coronavirus complications. 

McFarland, the subject of two documentaries — one on Netflix and the other Hulu — about the disastrous Fyre Festival, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud in March 2018. He is serving a six-year sentence.

A number of non-violent prisoners have been granted early or temporary release in an effort to stop the spread of the virus in correctional facilities, which McFarland's lawyers noted in their request.  

"Mr. McFarland is not a risk to the community nor a threat to public safety," reads the letter. "The crime to which he pled guilty for was the non-violent financial crime of wire fraud. However, he is a low risk of recidivism for such financial crimes as he has explained that he has a supportive family that has attested to providing for his basic needs."

McFarland's health was the most pressing matter, his lawyers argued, saying in part that "he has pre-existing conditions that make contracting COVID-19 easier, and which increase his potential to suffer severe health issues and death if he does so, including being diagnosed with asthma as a teenager," reads the letter to Judge Buchwald. His lawyers also noted he has had heart issues while behind bars and is on the "'extreme' scale of the allergy spectrum."