Music videos

Man bragging about cheating in music videos is jailed: Feds

The longest time 27-year-old Troy McFarland has spent behind bars was no more than a few months – until now.

McFarland, who is accused of committing credit card fraud for paying thousands of dollars in IKEA furniture and a Rolex, was sentenced to eight years in prison on Thursday, December 16. A federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia also ordered him to pay $59,467 in restitution.

Prosecutors said McFarland was “emboldened” by lenient prison sentences and showed a complete lack of remorse after his arrest and bail, when he allegedly removed his court-ordered location tracking device and would have been on the run for several months.

Meanwhile, he is accused of posting music videos in which he bragged about cutting off his bracelet and “dodging the feds.”

“The defendant has no remorse for his crimes and the harm he caused to the victims of his fraudulent scheme,” prosecutors said in the sentencing papers. “On the contrary, he is proud of it and has actively sought to leverage his criminal case to support his music career.”

McFarland, who is from Portsmouth, Va., has remained in custody since his second arrest in March and could not be reached for comment.

His attorney, Steven L. Washington, told McClatchy News in a Dec. 17 statement that they believe the judge’s sentence was “excessive” given what he called McFarland’s “minimal criminal history.”

“We categorically maintained that 50 months of incarceration would be sufficient but not more than necessary,” Washington said in an email. “In addition to avoiding sentencing disparities with similarly situated defendants; in this case, a co-accused in a similar situation. It’s just a shame.”

credit card fraud

A grand jury indicted McFarland alongside his alleged co-conspirator, Daquan Pierre, in July 2020. Pierre was sentenced earlier this year to four years and two months in prison.

According to the indictment and other documents filed in federal court, the couple’s alleged scheme lasted two months in 2018. During that time, McFarland and Pierre got their hands on credit gift cards, debit and prepaid cards that had been rekeyed with stolen card numbers belonging to real bank accounts in other people’s names, prosecutors said.

They used the cards to pay for a range of items – from motorcycle parts and hotel rooms to an Avis rental car that McFarland later wrecked, court documents show. He is accused of abandoning the totaled Range Rover at the scene of the accident in Virginia.

When McFarland and Pierre went to pick up the motorcycle parts they had ordered, prosecutors said, police were waiting for them. The store owners reportedly called law enforcement on suspicion of fraud after the couple placed the order.

Pierre stopped using the stolen card information after they were arrested, prosecutors said. McFarland did not.

In the months that followed, he was accused of buying a $14,310 Rolex and losing more than $16,000 at IKEA. Police were said to have been waiting for him when he returned for the furniture, again after the store discovered the fraudulent purchases.

Prosecutors said McFarland ultimately caused $74,353 in losses.

“He’s not a criminal”

Pierre was arrested on July 30, 2020, on federal charges, according to court documents. McFarland was arrested days later on August 3, 2020.

A judge initially ordered both men to remain in custody pending trial. McFarland asked the court to reconsider, which the government objected to. But the judge relented, calling McFarland’s release a “close call” and telling him “not to violate the terms of his pretrial supervision,” prosecutors said.

McFarland pleaded guilty in early October 2020, and Pierre did the same the following month, according to court documents.

Weeks after McFarland’s plea deal, prosecutors said, he removed his ankle bracelet and “escaped from surveillance.”

Law enforcement spent months looking for him, during which time he is accused of posting several music videos on YouTube in which he bragged about having made ‘$30,000 on a $15 visa’ and to have committed 15 crimes but “but he is not a criminal”.

“Mom told me to be patient, but I couldn’t, I cut the bracelet off,” McFarland rapped in one of the videos. “Avoid federal authorities and fight these cases.”

He was finally apprehended in March, according to court documents.

Prosecutors asked for a sentence higher than the recommended guidelines, saying McFarland was “emboldened by lenient sentences handed down by courts inclined to give him another chance.”

“To date, the longest sentence he has received is 12 months, including 10 months suspended,” the government said. “This approach proved ineffective in preventing the accused from committing further crimes.”

McFarland’s defense attorney opposed the request, saying McFarland had a “chaotic and often unstable childhood”, associated with substance abuse and “untreated mental health issues”.

“While Mr. McFarland is in prison, he will not only reflect on his criminal history, he will also re-examine his whole life and the way he makes his decisions,” his attorney said in the sentencing papers. “He will reflect on the life he wants to have with his family and the need to meet his family’s expectations.”

The judge ultimately granted the prosecutor’s request for a longer sentence, awarding McFarland 96 months with credit for time served and five years of supervised release.

Hayley Fowler is a reporter for The Charlotte Observer, covering breaking news and real-time news across North and South Carolina. She holds a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and previously worked as a legal reporter in New York City before joining the Observer in 2019.