But some donors remain skeptical.

"I am glad that they seem to be making progress, that there are new people on board who seem to be dedicated to solving these problems, but I do want to make sure that the money will be returned," said Carol Billings, a donor who was irate when she saw WWL-TV's reports last month.

NOJO Chairman Ron Forman, the broadly respected head of the Audubon Institute, told WWL-TV on May 12 that the NOJO board had agreed to pay all of the Library Foundation money back, as soon as they can raise the money from private donors.

Brown said none of that money has arrived yet, but he is working to craft a written agreement with Forman and NOJO as soon as possible to memorialize the Jazz Orchestra's commitment to pay back the money and so the Library Foundation can budget for a specific amount.

Public tax forms show at least $863,000 going from the Library Foundation to NOJO in 2012 and 2013. Some additional amount was paid in 2014, but Brown said a new accounting firm is still working to determine how much more.

Brown said the Library Foundation has hired CPA firm Bruno & Tervalon to complete full audits for every year since 2012, when the payments to NOJO began.

That firm will also take over preparation of the foundation's tax returns from John Falgoust, an accountant from DeMonte & Falgoust who simultaneously produced tax returns for the Library Foundation, financial statements and tax returns for NOJO and also served as Markham and Mayfield's personal accountant. Falgoust is also the registered agent for a private company formed by Mayfield and Markham.

Public records show Bourgeois Bennett accountant Larry Holmes handled the Library Foundation tax returns until 2011. Sources tell WWL-TV that Falgoust took over that work in 2012, the same year when payments to NOJO began, because Holmes was asking probing questions about the foundation's spending.

Holmes declined to answer the station's questions, citing his responsibility not to disclose information about a former client.

Falgoust also declined to comment without approval from Mayfield and Markham.

Similarly, NOJO has declined to comment on its use of DeMonte & Falgoust.

'Real challenges ahead'

But Brown kept a positive tone in his public remarks to donors Thursday, never mentioning Mayfield or Markham by name. He promised organizational and financial reviews to shed light on the cryptic procedures and spending of the board under the duo's prior leadership.

"We know that we've got real challenges ahead of us," Brown said to a crowd of about 30 at the Rose Keller library branch in Broadmoor. "But we also know that this group of men and women has the wisdom, the diligence, the integrity and the courage to make this foundation an invaluable asset to our public library system and more broadly to all of the citizens of New Orleans."

Brown acknowledged in an interview that he is friends with Forman, Mayfield and Markham, but said there is a "wall between us" as he awaits what he promises will be unvarnished reports from new legal advisers and financial auditors.

He told donors that the foundation board has hired longtime ethics attorney Gray Sexton to review a massive batch of old foundation board minutes and other documents, although Brown later told WWL-TV that some board minutes from Mayfield and Markham's days running the foundation are missing.

Brown promised a full report from Sexton on his findings and the foundation's legal and organizational structure within the next 180 days.

It's unclear if Sexton is reviewing minutes from key meetings in 2012 when Mayfield and Markham appealed to the three other board members to expand the foundation's mission beyond just supporting the city's public libraries, or when they asked for approval to direct the vast majority of that year's expenditures to the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra to build the Jazz Market music venue, bar and community center in Central City.

Two of the three other Library Foundation board members in 2012, Gerald Duhon Jr. and Dan Forman, said they remember Mayfield and Markham asking for money for NOJO, but claimed they weren't told that it would be so much.

Dan Forman is the son of NOJO Chairman Ron Forman.

A board resolution from 2012, uncovered by WWL-TV, showed the board was asked to give sweeping and exclusive control over contracting and spending to Mayfield. Records later showed similar powers were granted to Markham in 2014, after he had taken over from Mayfield as the foundation's president.

Markham told WWL-TV last month that the Jazz Market, which opened in April, was deserving of the library foundation money because it would provide library-related services to the public, including some of the city library's jazz recordings.