Louisiana – Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that Irvin Mayfield, age 40, and Ronald Markham, age 39, both residents of New Orleans, were charged today by a federal grand jury 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. Mayfield acted as NOJO’s Artistic Director and featured performer. Markham, a long-time 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 great financial distress to NOJO and its ability 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 upon Mayfield’s resignation as Chairman of NOPLF. During his time on the NOPLF Board, Markham also maintained his position with NOJO.
Between August 2011 and January 2013, Mayfield and Markham caused approximately $1,382,971 to be transferred from the NOPLF investment account to unlawfully enrich themselves, pay the operating costs of NOJO without approval, and while misleading NOPLF and others with regard to the purpose of the transfers.
According to the Indictment, Mayfield and Markham obstructed justice in November 2013 by altering and falsifying NOPLF Board of Director’s meeting minutes with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence the federal investigation that had begun by that time.
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 Markham’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 Mayfieldat 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.