Billy McFarland, architect of 2017’s Fyre Festival – one of the most notorious scams of the last decade – has reportedly been placed in solitary confinement in prison, where he’s serving a six-year sentence for fraud.
According to McFarland’s lawyer, John Russo, this is the result of his client attempting to record a podcast behind bars. He told The New York Times: “We believe the investigation stems from his participation in the podcast and the photographs that were taken and utilized in the trailer, which were all properly taken. We don’t believe he’s violated any rule or regulation, and there can’t possibly be anything else. He’s been a model prisoner there.”
The podcast, titled “Dumpster Fyre”, focuses on the Fyre Festival controversy, which saw attendees paying several thousand dollars to be left stranded on a half-built festival site with only a notoriously terrible cheese sandwich for comfort. It was a disaster that spawned a thousand memes and two major documentaries. The podcast aimed to tell McFarland’s side of the story, with all proceeds going towards the $26 million he owes in reparations. In an excerpt posted on Instagram, McFarland seems to confess to his crimes, saying, “I lied to people. I lied to investors, I lied to sponsors.”
It might be tempting to make light of this incident (“You know who else should be in prison for recording a podcast? All of your favourite podcast hosts!”), but it does seem as though McFarland has received a disproportionate punishment.
The UN has declared that solitary confinement is a form of torture, and its rules dictate that it should never be used for more than 15 days. According to McFarland’s lawyer, he faces up to 90.