Jury: NRA boss misspent

Gun Rights

NEW YORK — Wayne LaPierre misspent millions of dollars of the National Rifle Association’s money during his decades leading the powerful gun lobby, using the funds to pay for an extravagant lifestyle that included exotic getaways and trips on private planes and superyachts, a New York jury determined Friday.

The jury ordered LaPierre, 74, to repay the group he led for three decades $4,351,231. It also ordered the NRA’s retired finance chief, Wilson Phillips, to pay back the group $2 million.

Jurors also found the NRA failed to properly manage assets, omitted or misrepresented information in tax filings and violated whistleblower protections.

The verdict is a win for New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who campaigned on investigating the NRA’s nonprofit status.

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“In New York, you cannot get away with corruption and greed, no matter how powerful or influential you think you may be,” James said on social media. “Everyone, even the NRA and Wayne LaPierre, must play by the same rules.”

The loss in court is the latest blow to the powerful group, which in recent years was beset by financial troubles and dwindling membership. LaPierre, its longtime face, announced his resignation on the eve of the trial.

NRA general counsel John Frazer was also a defendant in the case. Though the jury found that he violated his duties, it didn’t order him to repay any money.

The penalties paid by LaPierre and Phillips will go back to the NRA, which was portrayed in the case both as a defendant that lacked internal controls to prevent misspending and as a victim of that same misconduct.

James also wants the three men to be banned from serving in leadership positions at any charitable organizations that conduct business in New York. A judge will decide that question during the next phase of the state Supreme Court trial.

Another former NRA executive turned whistleblower, Joshua Powell, settled with the state last month, agreeing to testify at the trial, pay the NRA $100,000 and forgo further involvement with nonprofits.

James originally sought to have the entire organization dissolved, but Manhattan Judge Joel M. Cohen ruled in 2022 that the allegations did not warrant a “corporate death penalty.”

Before he stepped down, LaPierre led the NRA’s day-to-day operations since 1991, acting as its face and becoming one of the country’s most influential figures in shaping gun policy.

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