NRA exposed as corrupt under LaPierre, ordered to pay millions in damages

February 27, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
The NRA and its executives were ordered to pay millions of dollars in fines after being found guilty of financial fraud after a jury trial wrapped up on Friday. Seen here, NRA executive Wayne La Pierre leaves State Supreme Court in Manhattan.Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP
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Private jets, luxury travel and, of course, expensive clothes. Wayne LaPierre, the longtime NRA executive, was found guilty on Friday of using NRA funds to fund his own lavish lifestyle. His theft was estimated to be well over $5 million.

This included repeated private flights to the Bahamas, helicopter trips to NASCAR races, and numerous personal expenses such as outdoor mosquito treatment and landscaping for LaPierre’s house, all billed to the NRA. 

On top of that, a substantial no-show contract with Woody Phillips and more than $4 million in vague “out-of-pocket” expenses from a major NRA vendor were uncovered. Whistleblower testimonies further revealed a culture of harassment within the NRA against those who raised concerns about these financial irregularities.

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A New York jury has found the National Rifle Association (NRA) and several of its top executives, including LaPierre, guilty of multiple legal violations on Friday. LaPierre, alongside former Treasurer and CFO Wilson “Woody” Phillips, were identified as primary culprits in the misuse of NRA funds for personal gain.

The jury’s findings revealed a pattern of extravagant spending by LaPierre, including millions on private jets, luxury travel, and expensive clothing, all billed to the organization. As a result, LaPierre is ordered to pay $4.35 million in restitution, with total damages caused by his actions amounting to $5.4 million.

The case also exposed systemic failures within the NRA to administer charitable funds appropriately and adhere to state laws designed to protect whistleblowers.

Phillips, alongside John Frazer, the NRA’s general counsel and corporate secretary, failed in their duties to uphold the integrity of the organization, leading to Phillips being ordered to pay $2 million in damages.

“This verdict is a major victory for the people of New York and our efforts to stop the corruption and greed at the NRA,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “For years, Wayne LaPierre used charitable dollars to fund his lavish lifestyle, spending millions on luxury travel, expensive clothes, insider contracts, and other perks for himself and his family. 

“LaPierre and senior leaders at the NRA blatantly abused their positions and broke the law. But today, after years of rampant corruption and self-dealing, Wayne LaPierre and the NRA are finally being held accountable.”

The six-week trial unveiled a litany of questionable financial practices and retaliatory actions against those who raised concerns internally. These revelations have prompted calls by the AG for significant reform within the NRA, including the potential appointment of an independent compliance monitor and governance expert to oversee the organization’s charitable assets and ensure adherence to proper governance standards.

The Attorney General’s Office, under Letitia James, played a crucial role in bringing these issues to light, culminating in this trial. The lawsuit, initiated in August 2020, faced numerous challenges, including attempts by the NRA to dismiss the case and relocate the trial venue.

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