Grammy-winning trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and his longtime music and business partner are free on bond while awaiting an October trial on conspiracy, fraud, money laundering and obstruction charges.
They can’t leave the country under the terms of their bond, but on Friday they asked a federal judge to let them travel to Africa for up to eight days in June to perform at an international jazz festival.
Mayfield and his partner, Ronald Markham, were indicted in December for allegedly conspiring and using fraudulent means to transfer $1.4 million in public library donations to the jazz orchestra that paid their salaries or into their own pockets.
The money transfers and Mayfield’s use of tens of thousands of dollars for swanky hotel stays, limo rides, meals and a gold-plated trumpet were first exposed by WWL-TV in 2015 and 2016.
In January, Mayfield and Markham were allowed to go free on $25,000 bonds, but had to surrender their passports. In Friday’s request to modify their bonds, they asked to be granted new passports and be allowed to leave the country from June 12 to June 20 to perform at the Soweto International Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.
They are scheduled to perform at the festival on June 16 and 17 but asked for extra days to travel because of the distance involved. A copy of Mayfield’s contract with the festival was filed as an exhibit in court. It shows that Mayfield would be paid $7,500, plus free hotel, ground transportation and round-trip airfare for four people and a $50 expense allowance per day away from home.
The court filing says the “compensation for their performance will not be vast, (but) it will certainly help Mr. Mayfield to continue to provide for his three minor children and Mr. Markham for his family.”
It also argues that letting Mayfield play in South Africa would bring "immeasurable commercial benefit to the city of New Orleans."
Mayfield claimed to be indigent at his first court appearance in January and was assigned Chief Public Defender Claude Kelly. In October, Mayfield sold his Uptown home -- where he once hosted high-society parties -- for more than $550,000, but that was only slightly more than what he paid for the house.
Mayfield continues to play regular gigs at small New Orleans venues like the Mother-In-Law Lounge and the Little Gem Saloon, but the reports by WWL-TV over the last three years and the subsequent public backlash caused him to lose major sources of income, including a six-figure salary at the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, a residency at the Royal Sonesta Hotel and a $63,000-a-year teaching position at the University of New Orleans.
Markham appears to have more stable finances and has hired a private defense attorney, Sara Johnson. Markham is married to Miranda Restovic, who makes $154,000 a year as the executive director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, according to the nonprofit’s 2016 public tax forms.
Friday’s court filing by defense attorneys Kelly and Johnson states that U.S. Probation Officer Rodd Felix had no objection to their request, but the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dall Kammer, did object.
The government had not filed any objection by midday Friday.