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Three NRA leaders found liable for graft

Christian Fernsby |
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that the jury in her case against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and three current and former senior leaders has found the defendants liable for violating the law.

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The jury found that Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and former Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wilson “Woody” Phillips were liable for financial misconduct and corruption in managing the organization.

The jury concluded that LaPierre abused his position for his personal benefit and steered lucrative contracts to friends and relatives, including spending millions of organization dollars on lavish travel, private planes, expensive clothing, and more.

LaPierre was found to have caused the NRA $5.4 million in damages and must pay $4.35 million.

The jury also determined that Attorney General James has shown cause for removal of LaPierre from the NRA based upon his violations.

The jury also found that the NRA failed to properly administer charitable funds and violated state laws that protect whistleblowers. Phillips and the current General Counsel and Corporate Secretary John Frazer were found liable for failing to uphold their duties as nonprofit executives. Phillips was ordered to pay $2 million in damages.

Frazer and the NRA were also found liable for making false statements on the NRA’s regulatory filings.

Over the course of a six-week trial, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) presented evidence revealing the extent of the NRA and its senior leaders’ violations of the law and misuse of NRA funds.

The evidence presented included:

Invoices of repeated private flight trips to the Bahamas taken by Wayne LaPierre with friends and family and paid for by the NRA, including some invoices which concealed passengers and destinations;

Invoices of helicopter trips to NASCAR races to avoid being stuck in

raffic; Expense reports submitted by Wayne LaPierre and paid by the NRA for reimbursement of outdoor mosquito treatment at his house, landscaping for his house, and gifts for friends and family;

A no-show post-employment contract between the NRA and Woody Phillips to pay him $360,000 annually in addition to $3,500 in monthly office rent;

Invoices worth more than $4 million dollars from the NRA’s then-largest vendor, Ackerman McQueen, for “out-of-pocket” expenses that had no detail and were used as a pass through for other expenses incurred by NRA Executives, including high end travel expenses for Wayne LaPierre and hair and makeup expenses for LaPierre’s wife; and

Testimony from whistleblowers detailing harassment, intimidation, or other forms of retaliation by the NRA for raising concerns about the misuse of funds.

Following the jury determination of liability against the NRA and the individual defendants, a separate court proceeding before Justice Cohen, sitting without a jury, will be held to determine whether to award non-monetary relief, including:

Whether an independent compliance monitor, which would report to the Court, should be appointed to ensure the proper administration of the NRA’s charitable assets.

Whether an independent governance expert should be appointed to advise the Court on reforms necessary to the NRA’s governance to ensure the proper administration of the NRA’s charitable assets.

Whether Wayne LaPierre and Woody Phillips should be permanently barred from re-election or appointment as an NRA officer or director, or from any other New York state not-for-profit corporation.

Whether the NRA and John Frazer should be barred from soliciting or collecting funds on behalf of any charitable organization operating in New York.

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