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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Irvin Mayfield and Ronald Markham Sentenced to 18 Months Imprisonment for Defrauding the New Orleans Public Library Foundation

NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that IRVIN MAYFIELD, age 44, a resident of New Orleans, and RONALD MARKHAM, age 43, also a resident of New Orleans, were sentenced today for defrauding the New Orleans Public Library Foundation out of approximately $1,316,232. The Honorable Jay Zainey sentenced the defendants to eighteen (18) months imprisonment followed by three (3) years of supervised release.  MAYFIELD and MARKHAM were also sentenced to payment of restitution in the amount of $1,123,032 to the N.O, Public Library Foundation, payment of a $100 mandatory special assessment fee and 500 hours of community service.

According to court documents, MAYFIELD founded the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) in 2002. MAYFIELD also acted as Artistic Director and featured performer. MARKHAM was a long-time friend of MAYFIELD and served as NOJO’s President and Chief Executive Officer. MAYFIELD and MARKHAM both received salaries of $100,000 from NOJO as well as compensation for compositions and performances through Mayfield Publishing Company. Throughout its existence, NOJO relied on donations to fund its operations and pay its expenses. Between December 16, 2008, until May 31, 2010, NOJO relied on grants from the Edward Wisner Donation, a charitable trust administered by the City of New Orleans. 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.

In October 1990, the New Orleans Public Library Foundation (NOPLF) was established to receive donations generated through private fund-raising efforts; to oversee the prudent investment of said donations at an acceptable level of risk; and to authorize expenditures judiciously for the purpose of purchasing books, other information materials, and sponsoring New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) related programs. For these purposes, NOPLF maintained an investment account. Until approximately August 2011, the NOPLF used interest earned from its investment account to fund its mission at the direction of the board of directors. All board members were uncompensated volunteers.

In August 2006, MAYFIELD became a board member of NOPLF. He later became Chairman of the board in November 2010. During his time on the NOPLF board, MAYFIELD also maintained his position with NOJO. In December 2009, MARKHAM became a board member of NOPLF. He later became Chairman of the board in 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 23, 2011, and November 30, 2013, MAYFIELD and MARKHAM caused approximately $1,316,232 to be unlawfully transferred and paid directly from the NOPLF to NOJO and elsewhere.

Beginning in February 2011, and continuing until November 2017, the defendants committed mail and wire fraud by transferring $1,316,232 from the NOPLF investment account to NOJO and elsewhere without approval and while misleading the NOPLF and others with regard to the purpose of the transfers. The defendants sent materially false and misleading correspondence to NOPLF board members, investment account managers, and auditors regarding the purpose of the money transfers. They also prepared materially false and misleading records to make money transfers from NOPLF to NOJO appear legitimate when they were not. Examples of the unlawful money transfers include:

  • The defendants used NOPLF money to support NOJO operating expenses and pay their NOJO salaries.
  • The defendants caused tens of thousands of dollars to be transferred directly into the personal accounts of MAYFIELD and Mayfield Productions.
  • The defendants used NOPLF money to pay for NOJO’s performance at Carnegie Hall and performance fees to MAYFIELD.
  • The defendants used NOPLF money to pay for MAYFIELD’s stays at the Ritz Carlton and Park Central Hotel as well as the travel expenses of NOJO musicians for NOJO performances.
  • MAYFIELD used NOPLF money to purchase a 24k gold-plated trumpet and spend money at Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrah’s Casino.

After receiving federal grand jury subpoenas in November 2013, MAYFIELD and MARKHAM gathered and fraudulently edited NOPLF board minutes by changing line items and dollar amounts with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence the investigation by the FBI. They also used the fraudulently altered board minutes to convince the NOPLF board that the transfers were authorized.

Finally, MARKHAM falsely informed NOPLF board members, employees of NOPLF and NOPLF legal counsel that NOJO did not use NOPLF money to pay the NOJO salaries of MAYFIELD and MARKHAM and that NOJO was not dependent on NOPLF funding.

"Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that individuals like Grammy Award winning musician Irvin Mayfield and his business partner Ronald Markham who steal from non-profit organizations will be held accountable. Mr. Mayfield and Mr. Markham were driven by their own personal greed, committing financial crimes to enrich themselves at the expense of the citizens of New Orleans who utilize resources offered by New Orleans Public Library,” said FBI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Williams, Jr. "We thank our partners at United States Attorney's Office Eastern District of Louisiana, Metropolitan Crime Commission and the City of New Orleans Office of Inspector General for their strong partnership and unrelenting pursuit of justice." 

“The Office of Inspector General will continue to combine our resources with our federal partners to prevent fraud, waste and abuse. It is vital that we ensure the integrity of New Orleans City Government while we hold public officials accountable for their actions”.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New Orleans Office of the Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorneys G. Dall Kammer, Theodore Carter, and Brandon Long are in charge of the prosecution.

 

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated November 3, 2021