New Orleans trumpeter gets 18 months over charity fraud

NEW ORLEANS – Irvin Mayfield, the jazz trumpet player who became a symbol of New Orleans resilience immediately after Hurricane Katrina, was sentenced to 18 months in jail Wednesday for steering charity revenue intended for community libraries to his particular use.

Mayfield’s musical and small business partner, pianist Ronald Markham, also was sentenced to 18 months Wednesday in federal courtroom. Each pleaded responsible past November to a one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud. The two are to report to jail on Jan. 5, although appeals of the sentence are doable. Both are to supply 500 hrs of community services — new music classes for underprivileged young children — when totally free.

Prosecutors mentioned Mayfield and Markham, each 43, steered extra than $1.3 million from the New Orleans General public Library Foundation to by themselves, mainly by funneling it via the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, which Mayfield established.

“I have definitely grappled in excess of this mainly because of the prospective you have, the fantastic issues you have completed for the group,” U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey instructed Mayfield as he announced the sentence. Zainey stated he experienced to balance the need to punish a critical criminal offense that unfolded in excess of 6 several years with the require for the musicians to get back to perform, make restitution and return to group services for which each had been held in substantial esteem.


Mayfield, addressing the court docket before he was sentenced, apologized to the library foundation, its donors and the New Orleans neighborhood. He acknowledged the library as a location where he 1st was in a position to hear to jazz records as a kid. That introduced 1 of a number of interruptions from Zainey.

“The pretty library that received you your start off … you ripped off,” Zainey stated. At one level, Zainey told Mayfield to convert and handle the courtroom, wherever Mayfield’s supporters and supporters of the library program sat. “I hope you settle for my apology. I take 100% obligation,” Mayfield explained to the audience.

Attorneys for the basis, even though not speaking on what form of sentence Mayfield and Markham should get, stated the destruction accomplished went further than the $1.3 million. The scandal, they reported, also seriously damaged the foundation’s standing and fund-raising potential.

Supporters of Mayfield integrated former New Orleans police chief Eddie Compass. Compass urged that Mayfield be spared prison time so he can continue to treatment for his disabled mom and an autistic older brother. “He nevertheless fixes his brother’s foodstuff like he did when he was a very little child,” Compass stated.


Defense legal professional Claude Kelly reported practically nothing would be attained by sending Mayfield to prison for a non-violent crime. He pointed to Mayfield’s mentoring of younger musicians and other neighborhood progress attempts led by the musician and explained Mayfield has “and outstanding capacity to really make it correct.”

Arguing for the greatest five several years, Assistant U.S. Lawyer Dall Kammer explained failing to sentence the two to prison would be “a basic case in point of white collar criminals getting a slap on the wrist.”

“Book 1,” an album by Mayfield and the Jazz Orchestra, received a Grammy in 2010. But the library foundation scandal led to his resignation as creative director of the orchestra in 2016 although scrutiny of his purpose with the library grew next investigative studies by WWL-Tv.

Mayfield was amid musicians who took a superior-profile role in advertising and marketing New Orleans just after levee failures and catastrophic flooding in the course of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Mayfield’s father died in the floodwaters.


Mayfield was also a founding member of the Afro-Caribbean jazz ensemble Los Hombres Calientes.

Prosecutors explained that in addition to orchestra operating expenditures and salaries for Mayfield and Markham, library basis money went into Mayfield’s private bank accounts and towards the obtain of a gold-plated trumpet.

Prior to his indictment and guilty plea, Mayfield had outlined grand designs for the city’s libraries in an AP interview in 2008.

“A library is democracy inside of four partitions, the independence to information and facts,” he explained then. “Jazz is democracy we listen to.”

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