McFarland, 26, showed a "disturbing pattern of deception" in his role in organising two separate fraudulent schemes, says prosecutor Geoffrey Berman
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Ja Rule's ideas were "hijacked" by Billy McFarland, who "ran the show", says the rapper's lawyer, as he denies being liable for the failure of the festival
By Jon Chapple on 18 Oct 2017
A solicitor for rapper Ja Rule, the co-founder of the infamous Fyre Festival, has told a New York judge his client is not liable for damages over the failings of the event, pointing the finger instead at his former business partner, Billy McFarland.
Rosemary Rivas, representing Matthew Herlihy and Anthony Lauriello, two of the festivalgoers suing Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Atkins), McFarland and their Fyre Media company, noted in a recent court filing that Atkins “denies all substantive allegations […] and further states that the plaintiffs and the purported class failed to demonstrate that defendant, Atkins, committed fraud, made any misrepresentations, attempted to deceive them and/or is otherwise liable under a legal theory of common law or statutory fraud, misrepresentation, or conspiracy to do the same”.
Atkins’s lawyer, Thomas Herndon, yesterday elaborated on the nature of his client’s denials of culpability, telling judge Kevin Castel that McFarland had “hijacked” his vision for the festival.
“My client got wrapped up in this unintentionally. … His ideas got hijacked by McFarland”
“Billy McFarland ran the show,” said Hendon. “My client got wrapped up in this unintentionally.
“His ideas got hijacked by McFarland.”
The organisers of Fyre Festival – which collapsed on its first day, with festivalgoers arriving on the Bahamian island of Grand Exuma to find a half-built festival site and no sign of the luxury accommodation and dining included with their US$1,500–$50,000 tickets – are currently facing numerous lawsuits from disgruntled festivalgoers, and there have been calls recently for the various class actions to be centralised into one mega-suit.
McFarland, who became the public face of the festival, was arrested in July, charged with operating a “scheme to defraud investors” out of almost $1.2m. He was later released on bail, and is believed to be in plea-bargain negotiations with the US government.
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