NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - New Orleans musician Irvin Mayfield and another man were charged by a federal grand jury Thursday in a 19-count indictment for conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
According to court documents, Mayfield founded the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) in 2002. He acted as NOJO's artistic director and featured performer. Ronald Markham, a longtime friend of Mayfield, served as NOJO's president and CEO. Both defendants received a $100,000 annual salary from NOJO. Mayfield also received income and other benefits through his companies Mayfield Production Company, Inc. and Mayfield Publishing Co., as well as through his affiliation with Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse, a nightclub formerly in the French Quarter.
Between December 2008 and May 2010, NOJO relied heavily on grants from the Edward Wisner Donation, a charitable trust administered by the City of New Orleans, to pay its operating costs and expenses. In February 2011, support for NOJO through the Edward Wisner Donation was terminated by the City of New Orleans, causing NOJO to be unable to pay expenses. Mayfield and Markham then began a search for new sources of funding.
In or about August 2006, Mayfield became a board member of New Orleans Public Library Foundation (NOPLF), later becoming chairman of the board in or about November 2010. During his time on the NOPLF Board, Mayfield also maintained his position with NOJO. In or about December 2009, Markham also became a board member of NOPLF. He later became chairman of the board in or about September 2013 after Mayfield resigned. During his time on the NOPLF Board, Markham also maintained his position with NOJO.
Between August 2011 and January 2013, the defendants caused approximately $1,382,971 to be transferred from the NOPLF investment account to enrich themselves and pay the operating costs of NOJO without approval while misleading NOPLF about the purpose of the transfers.
According to the indictment, Mayfield and Markham obstructed justice in November 2013 by altering and falsifying the minutes of NOPLF's board of director's meeting minutes with the intent to impede, obstruct and influence the federal investigation that had begun.
The charges detail that Mayfield and Markham used the NOPLF investment account funds to:
- purchase a 24k gold-plated trumpet for Mayfield;
- fund Mayfield and Markhams’s NOJO salaries;
- make payments into Mayfield’s personal bank accounts;
- make payments to Mayfield Productions;
- fund NOJO’s performance at Carnegie Hall;
- pay for stays at the Ritz Carlton and Park Central Hotel;
- fund expenditures made by Mayfield at Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrah’s Casino, and
- pay for the general operating expenses of NOJO.
If convicted, the defendants face five years of imprisonment as to Count 1, 20 years of imprisonment as to Counts 2 through 6, ten years of imprisonment as to Counts 7 through 18, and 20 years imprisonment as to Count 19. All counts also carry a possible $250,000 fine.