Grammy Award-winning New Orleans trumpet player Irvin Mayfield and his musical partner, pianist Ronald Markham, each pleaded guilty Tuesday (Nov. 10) to a conspiracy to commit fraud charge stemming from their time with a charitable foundation that raised money for libraries.
Prosecutors alleged that they steered more than $1.3 million from the New Orleans Public Library Foundation to themselves, largely by funneling it through the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, which Mayfield founded. Money also went through another nonprofit, the Youth Rescue Initiative, which Mayfield served as a board member, according to the indictment.
Each faces up to five years in prison when they are sentenced on Feb. 9 by U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey, who accepted their guilty pleas to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Mayfield was among musicians who took a high-profile role in promoting New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when levee failures led to catastrophic flooding. Irvin’s father died in the flooding. More recently, Mayfield has battled his own COVID-19 infection and the death of his older brother, defense attorney Claude Kelly said outside the courthouse Tuesday.