NOLA Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield & Pianist Sentenced To 18 Months
NOLA jazz trumpeter, Irvin Mayfield, and his business partner pianist Ronald Markham were facing up to 5-years in prison for charity fraud. Their fate was in the hands of Judge Jay Zainey, and though they didn't get off free, they did end up with a lesser sentence of 18 months in prison instead.
Mayfield is the founding member of the Afro-Caribbean Jazz group Los Hombres Calientes. His family was heavily impacted by Hurricane Katrina, as the New Orleans musician lost his father to the 2005 storm after the levee failed and flooded the city. He would be named NOLA's Cultural Ambassador for his highly regarded relief and humanitarian efforts to help other victims after the storm.
Mayfield and his music partner Markham were indicted by a federal grand jury in 2017. The two musicians were accused of steering more than $1.3 million dollars meant for, the New Orleans Public Library Foundation, to their own bank accounts. Ironically, this is a charity Mayfield founded. Last year they plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to commit mail, and wire fraud in court in November 2020.
Appeals of their sentences are possible, but for now, both men, 43, were ordered to report to prison on Jan. 5. According to news reports in addition to duel 18 month sentences, 3-years of supervised release and they each got 500 hours of community service. Following their jail time, they will each work off the service hours by giving free music lessons to underprivileged children.
Prosecutors said Mayfield and Markham, both 43, steered more than $1.3 million from the NOLA Library Foundation to themselves, by funneling the money through the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, which ironically was founded by Mayfield. According to reports, their legal team asked the court to allow the two musicians to pay $1.1 million in restitution to a court-appointed account in hopes Judge Zainey would be lenient. It looks like this worked. They both gave public apologies and until 6-years ago, were held in high esteem for doing so much for the people and city of New Orleans.
The U.S. District Judge said prior to announcing the sentence, “I have really grappled over this because of the potential you have, the wonderful things you have done for the community." The judge explained he had to balance the need to punish a serious crime with the need for the musicians to get back to work, make restitution and return to community service.
Meanwhile, Mayor Cantrell is receiving some blowback for making comments in support of Mayfield at his concert this past Saturday. The Mayor, who is running for reelection, said from the stage to a sold-out crowd at the Magnolia Mansion, “It is so beautiful to see your faces, taking those masks off,” She added. “So, let’s continue to support one another. And more importantly, let’s continue to support a true son of the city of New Orleans, Irvin Mayfield.” Markham and other members of Mayfield’s band were standing behind her. Sheriff Marlin Gusman, also extended his support to both musicians that same night.