A federal magistrate judge on Wednesday denied a request by Grammy-winning trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and his co-defendant to travel to South Africa in June for a jazz festival.
Mayfield and his longtime friend and business and music partner Ronald Markham were charged with conspiracy, fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice in December, more than two years after WWL-TV first exposed their transfer of more than $1 million public library donations to their jazz orchestra.
Mayfield, who once drove a Maserati and played a gilded trumpet for presidents and foreign dignitaries, has declared himself indigent and is represented by Chief Federal Public Defender Claude Kelly. In a request to modify the terms of Mayfield’s $25,000 bond, Kelly argued he should be allowed to get a new passport and have special dispensation to leave the country for up to eight days in June for the Soweto International Jazz Festival in Johannesburg.
Kelly said Mayfield needed the $7,500 performance fee to support his three children.
Markham, who is represented by private attorney Sara Johnson, also petitioned the court to let him go along. Markham plays percussion in Mayfield’s band and the performance fee would be split among the band members.
But federal prosecutor Dall Kammer opposed the motion, noting that Mayfield has few financial ties remaining in New Orleans and a significant following overseas and calling both Mayfield and Markham a “flight risk.” Kammer also argued that if they needed to extradite Mayfield or Markham from South Africa, the process is an arduous one. He said the process can take upwards of 10 years.
The defense countered Wednesday by presenting two previous cases where prosecutors were able to extradite defendants from South Africa within a year or less of indicting them. But Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles sided with the government, denying the request to let either Mayfield or Markham get passports or leave the country.
Johnson, Markham's attorney, said they will appeal Knowles' decision to the district court judge overseeing the case, Jay Zainey.