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Jury finds NRA and ex-CEO Wayne LaPierre liable in civil corruption trial

The jurors determined there was cause to remove LaPierre and that he owes the organization nearly $4 million.


Former National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre has been ordered to pay nearly $4 million to the nonprofit after a jury on Friday found him liable in a civil corruption trial brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The defendants, which included the NRA itself, the organization’s general counsel and corporate secretary John Frazer, and former treasurer and chief financial officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips, were accused of using the nonprofit as a “personal piggy bank” in a civil lawsuit filed by James in 2020. James alleged that they violated nonprofit laws and misused tens of millions in NRA funds for personal gain.

After a week of deliberation, the jury agreed that the attorney general had proved her case, finding each of the defendants liable for violating their statutory obligations. The jury determined that LaPierre cost the organization more than $5 million but had already repaid $1.4 million. Phillips was held to have harmed the group to the tune of $2 million; the jury did not put a dollar amount on Frazer’s violation.

In their argument, attorneys for the NRA had sought to distance the organization from LaPierre, who announced his resignation as CEO just days before the trial began in January, after more than 30 years at the helm. Sarah Rogers, representing the organization, said in opening arguments that LaPierre, though a “valuable and visionary leader,” was “not always a meticulous corporate executive” and questioned why the NRA was even a defendant in the case.

LaPierre’s attorneys, however, maintained that he used private jets not for personal gain, but to raise funds for the organization and for gun rights causes — even as LaPierre himself testified that he improperly expensed private flights and failed to disclose accepting luxury vacations from vendors.

“He was a visionary,” his lawyer P. Kent Correll said in closing arguments last Thursday. “He was a genius.”