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LaToya Cantrell's spokesperson defends her support for Irvin Mayfield

“Mr. Mayfield is a son of the city,” Tidwell said. “He's made some incredible music. He's made some awful mistakes."

NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s spokesman defended his boss’ public comments supporting musician Irvin Mayfield on Tuesday, even as Mayfield awaits sentencing for taking $1.3 million in public library donations.

Cantrell took the microphone on stage at the Magnolia Mansion prior to a sold-out Mayfield concert May 29 and said, “Let's continue to support one another. But more importantly, let's continue to support a true son of the city of New Orleans, Irvin Mayfield.”

WWL-TV broke the story and showed the video last week. Cantrell’s office said it would have “no comment” about her statement of support for Mayfield. But at his weekly Tuesday news briefing, mayoral spokesman Beau Tidwell said that Cantrell would offer such support to “any resident.”

“Mr. Mayfield is a son of the city,” Tidwell said. “He's made some incredible music. He's made some awful mistakes. He has pled guilty and he's going to pay for those crimes, right? The mayor believes in second chances. And in that sense, she did reach out to him and offer her support, as she would with any resident.”

Mayfield and his partner Ronald Markham pleaded guilty last year to illegally transferring $1.3 million from the city’s public library charity, where they each served as chairman of the board, to their jazz orchestra. They admitted in court records that they used the money on their own six-figure salaries, as well as luxury hotels and gold trumpets for Mayfield.

Mayfield and Markham’s sentencing has been delayed several times and they do not have a new sentencing hearing set yet. After they were convicted in November, they challenged a presentencing report by the U.S. Probation Office. Mayfield’s attorney, Federal Public Defender Claude Kelly, has said they look forward to presenting more evidence to U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey before he decides on a sentence.

Mayfield and Markham each face a maximum of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit fraud, but Zainey has wide discretion to give less prison time or no prison time. As a part of their plea agreement, the duo agreed to pay $1.1 million in restitution and this week, Zainey approved a court account for them to start making restitution payments prior to sentencing.

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