Irvin Mayfield, partner sentenced to 18 months for embezzling $ 1.3 million from New Orleans library foundation
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Grammy-winning trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and business partner Ronald Markham were each sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on Wednesday, November 3, nearly a year after pleading guilty to a scheme that defrauded the New Orleans Public Library Foundation of $ 1.3 million.
U.S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey also ordered the couple to pay back $ 1.123 million in restitution, give students 500 hours of music lessons, and serve three years of supervised release after their jail term ends. They had until January 5 to report to prison.
The sentence culminates a remarkable fall from grace for Mayfield, 43, who was once the city’s ambassador for the promotion of cultural tourism and entertainment and a prominent and beloved figure in his recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
Zainey said he plans to put Mayfield behind bars for two years, but opted for a shorter sentence with the provision for the musician to start work and pay back within 60 days of being released from prison.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Mayfield and his pianist / collaborator Markham used their positions as chairman or members of the foundation’s board of directors to embezzle more than $ 1.3 million in funds intended for the city’s public libraries in their own projects and pockets through the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra that Mayfield founded in 2002.
Approximately $ 1 million in funds intended to purchase books and to support library staff and programming were directed towards the $ 10 million construction cost of the New Orleans Jazz Market, the location on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard which served as the NOJO base in Central City, prosecutors said.
Other stolen funds were used by the couple to operate and travel with their jazz band, supplement their six-figure salaries, and support a lavish lifestyle that included luxurious hotel suites, shopping sprees on Saks Fifth. Avenue and a new trumpet for Mayfield plated in 24 karat gold, according to the court document.
The childhood friends ran between August 2011 and January 2013, according to the December 2017 indictment from a federal grand jury.
With his reputation in tatters after the indictment, Mayfield’s performance opportunities began to dry up. The Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter ended Mayfield’s seven-year residence in July 2019 and removed its name from its Bourbon Street concert hall which was called Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse.
Mayfield pleaded poverty in court and was assigned Federal Public Defender Claude Kelly as legal counsel. Mayfield and Markham maintained their innocence for nearly three years while indicted, until they negotiated a plea deal in July 2020. Mayfield and Markham pleaded guilty together on November 10 to one count. charge of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.
Each faced a maximum federal prison sentence of five years. But under the terms of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop 23 other charges against the defendants.
Mayfield and Markham have consistently argued for leniency at Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, objecting to parts of the pre-sentence report prepared for Zainey’s review.
“His sin was ego,” Kelly told the judge, “not greed”.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dall Kammer pleaded with the judge to impose the maximum sentence of five years, which he called “reasonable” given the conduct of the defendants and the victim.
“It would serve as an example for white-collar criminals who don’t get a slap on the wrist, but instead get the jail time they deserve,” Kammer said.
After former NOPD Superintendent Eddie Compass spoke on behalf of Mayfield and victim impact letters were read to inform the judge of the damage caused by the accused’s conduct to the library system, Mayfield s ‘is addressed to the court.
“It’s pretty emotional,” Mayfield said. “My hope today is that my family, friends, community and city can accept my apologies. … To be taken from my family would be the worst punishment of all.
Zainey replied from the bench, “Why didn’t you think about that when you broke the law? … The very libraries that got you started are the ones you ripped off.
“You let people down. I’m glad you recognize him.
Fox 8 reporter Olivia Vidal contributed to this report.
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