NEW ORLEANS — Grammy-winning jazz musician Irvin Mayfield and his business partner Ronald Markham are now both in federal prison, starting 18-month prison terms nearly seven years after WWL-TV first exposed their transfer of more than $1 million from a public library fund.
The pair were convicted of stealing $1.3 million from New Orleans’ public library charity. They were each sentenced to 18 months in prison in November. Mayfield and Markham were supposed to surrender to authorities Jan. 5, but they were granted a delay until Wednesday, Jan. 12.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed Mayfield was booked at Federal Prison Camp Pensacola, a low-security facility about three hours east of New Orleans, which he requested so he could be close to family. Markham surrendered Wednesday to begin his sentence in Pollock, La., near Alexandria.
WWL-TV's exclusive David Hammer investigation in May 2015 exposed more than $1 million Mayfield and Markham transferred from the New Orleans Public Library Foundation to their jazz orchestra, where they each made six-figure salaries.
In 2020, they pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and admitted that they diverted over $1.3 million in New Orleans Public Library donations to their New Orleans Jazz Orchestra to pad their salaries and for luxuries for Mayfield, including five-star hotel, stays, limos, high-end liquor, and a $15,000 gold-plated trumpet.
Their sentencing was delayed almost a year. U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey sentenced them in November. The sentencing guidelines for their crime called for more than five years in prison but their guilty plea limited the term to five years, Zainey said. Then he decided to sentence them to 18 months each, saying the longer they are in prison, the less they can do to make restitution for their crime.
There is also $1.1 million in restitution they must pay at $500 a month to the New Orleans Public Library Foundation. If each of them make those payments it will take 92 years to pay the balance.
Mayfield is 44 and Markham is 43.
Both men were also ordered to give 500 hours of free music lessons to children. They will each have three years of supervised release as well following their release from prison.