New York Jury Issues $5M Fraud Verdict Against NRA Chief LaPierre

New York Jury Issues $5M Fraud Verdict Against NRA Chief LaPierre

Wayne LaPierre

A New York jury has reached a verdict against former National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO Wayne LaPierre, finding him guilty of corruption and defrauding the organization of more than $5 million.

Courthouse News reporter Erik Ueblacker tweeted the verdict on Friday, which found that the NRA sustained $5,400,000 in financial harm as a result of LaPierre's actions. However, the jury also agreed that LaPierre had already paid back $1,048,769.98 to the organization, meaning he's still on the hook for more than $4.35 million.

According to ABC News, the jury also found that the NRA was liable for financial mismanagement, and ruled that NRA corporate secretary and general counsel John Frazer and former NRA treasurer and CFO Wilson "Woody" Phillips violated their statutory obligations to discharge the duties of their positions in good faith.

LaPierre's attorney called the lawsuit — which was filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James in 2020 — politically motivated, and argued that his client "acted in good faith and with honesty, sincerity and intention." LaPierre resigned from his position atop the NRA just before the seven-week trial began for health reasons.

The central allegations of the trial focused on LaPierre's stacking of organizational leadership with loyalists who would enable and green-light his misuse of organizational funds. The New York Times reported that James' office accused LaPierre of "diverting millions of dollars in NRA funding toward personal use," which included hair and makeup for his wife, speaking fees for board members, contracts with favored vendors willing to pay kickbacks and luxurious private jet excursions to exclusive locations.

Prior to the start of the trial, James secured a guilty plea from the NRA's former chief operations officer, Joshua Powell. ABC reported that as part of his settlement, he agreed that he "breached his fiduciary duties of care, loyalty and obedience by using the NRA's charitable assets for his own benefit and the benefit of his family," and that he "failed to administer the charitable assets entrusted to his care properly."

The NRA's membership has been steadily declining, with The Tracereporting that the organization's membership dipped from 4.9 million to 4.3 million between April of 2021 and January of 2023, which aligns with the time frame of the corruption lawsuit.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

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