NEW ORLEANS -- A federal judge ruled Thursday that musician Irvin Mayfield and his co-defendant, who are awaiting a federal criminal trial in October, can travel to South Africa in June to perform at a jazz festival.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey reverses a ruling by Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles III. Knowles had denied Mayfield and his business and music partner, Ronald Markham, their request to alter the terms of their release so they could share in a $7,500 performance fee for two concerts at the Soweto International Jazz Festival in Johannesburg.
Mayfield is a Grammy-winning trumpeter and Markham is his longtime pianist who also owns businesses with Mayfield and ran his jazz orchestra.
Zainey said the duo can get back their surrendered passports and may use them to travel to South Africa for six days. The judge ordered both men to provide $100,000 property bonds during their trip, sign extradition waivers and check in with the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg when they arrive.
They both must surrender their passports when they return.
Mayfield faces 19 felony counts and Markham is charged with 18 for allegedly conspiring to transfer more than $1.3 million in public library donations to pay their salaries at a jazz orchestra Mayfield founded and for Mayfield to purchase such luxury items as a gold-plated trumpet, a performance at Carnegie Hall and lavish travel accommodations.
The money transfers and many of the details of the spending were exposed by a series of WWL-TV investigations in 2015 and 2016. A federal grand jury indicted Mayfield and Markham in December and they both pleaded not guilty in January.
Federal prosecutors had argued Mayfield and Markham posed a “significant flight risk” because they face major prison time if convicted. But the duo’s defense attorneys argued they both have deep roots in New Orleans and families depending on them. Zainey said he was “persuaded the defendants do not pose a flight risk.”