Founder of disastrous Bahamas festival admits swindling investors

Billy McFarland leaves federal court on Tuesday, in New York. He faces a sentence of 8 to 10 years. (AP)
Updated 07 March 2018
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Founder of disastrous Bahamas festival admits swindling investors

NEW YORK: The entrepreneur behind a luxury music festival in the Bahamas that collapsed in chaos admitted Tuesday that he swindled investors by vastly overstating his financial health.
Billy McFarland, 26, agreed before a federal court in New York to forfeit more than $26 million and pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, a charge that relates to financial deceit, prosecutors said in a statement.
He would have faced up to 20 years in prison for each count but is expected to be sentenced to less time due to his guilty plea.
McFarland was the force behind the Fyre Festival, which had billed itself as the ultimate upscale getaway amid a fast-growing market for music events.
Hundreds of partygoers headed to the Bahamas, some paying more than $100,000 each, but instead found tents that would have looked in place in relief camps and cuisine that was just rudimentary sandwiches.
Prosecutors said McFarland had repeatedly misrepresented himself to build his Fyre Media tech company and the ill-fated festival.
He falsified statements to show investors that his company earned millions of dollars from April 2016 and February 2017 through talent bookings, which in reality has grossed just $57,443, prosecutors said.
The US Attorney’s office said that at least 80 investors fell victim to his scheme, losing more than $24 million.


Two get life sentence in S.Africa ‘cannibalism case’

Updated 13 December 2018
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Two get life sentence in S.Africa ‘cannibalism case’

  • Police refused to believe his claims until he took them to a house where more body parts were found
JOHANNESBURG: Two South African men accused of cannibalism were given life sentences for murder on Wednesday, with the judge saying they were guilty of “the most heinous crime,” local media reported.
Sitting at the Pietermaritzburg High Court, judge Peter Olsen sentenced Nino Mbatha, 33, and Lungisani Magubane, 32, to life in prison for the killing of Zanele Hlatshwayo last year, the Witness newspaper said.
Mbatha, a traditional healer, was arrested after handing himself in at a police station in Estcourt, a town in KwaZulu-Natal province.
He was carrying a bag containing a human leg and a hand, telling officers he was “tired of eating human flesh.”
Police refused to believe his claims until he took them to a house where more body parts were found.
A third man was acquitted on Wednesday. Seven people were initially arrested.
At earlier hearings in Estcourt, angry residents had gathered outside the courthouse to protest against the grisly murder.
South Africa has no direct law against cannibalism, but mutilating a corpse and being in possession of human tissue are criminal offenses.