Did you feel something shift in the air this week? An almost imperceptible yet lingering sense of unease? Perhaps you noticed a bad taste in your mouth? It’s almost certainly because two of the most prominent millennial white-collar criminals were released from prison on the same day.
Ughhh. Already? Didn’t we just put you guys behind bars? I suppose time flies when you’re trying to survive a years-long pandemic — and it’s not like either had that long of a stint to endure. Shkreli, the smug “Pharma Bro” who became infamous and widely despised after raising the price of a drug prescribed to AIDS patients by more than 5,000 percent, went away for securities fraud, sentenced to seven years in 2018. Jury selection in his trial was difficult due to negative public opinion, with prospective jurors telling the court that he was “the face of corporate greed” and “looks like a dick.” Post-release, it appears he quickly got back on Bumble.
Billy McFarland, sentenced to six years in prison in 2018 for defrauding investors in Fyre Festival, his catastrophic music event, of $27.4 million, also secured early release. Though he faces less visceral hatred than Shkreli — and some people even like that he stranded rich influencers on a barren Caribbean island with meager shelter and food for a weekend — a pair of documentaries cemented the Fyre debacle as the scam job of its era. It’s quite possible we haven’t yet seen McFarland’s last con. We’re supposed to believe he’s rehabilitated? Come on!
These two grifters getting out on the same day, whatever they might do with their newfound freedom, could be powerful enough to transport us back to the 2010s conditions in which they gained notoriety. A world where Salt Bae is still seen as cool. People dumping buckets of ice on their heads and trading nudes on Snapchat. And, of course, the return of Donald Trump, who will probably hire both of them to work on his 2024 campaign. As Faulkner said: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” My advice is to hold your loved ones tight and brace for impact.