Jury Finds NRA Head Wayne LaPierre Liable, Must Pay $4.3 Million in Damages

Caden Pearson
By Caden Pearson
February 23, 2024Judiciary
Jury Finds NRA Head Wayne LaPierre Liable, Must Pay $4.3 Million in Damages
Former CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA) Wayne LaPierre leaves New York State Supreme Court on Feb. 21, 2024.(Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

A New York jury found National Rifle Association (NRA) boss Wayne LaPierre liable in a civil case on Friday, ordering him to pay $4.3 million in damages for the mismanagement and misuse of charitable funds.

The verdict concludes a trial in the civil lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General’s Office, accusing Mr. LaPierre and the NRA of questionable financial and administration practices during his tenure from 2014 to 2022.

The six-person jury found that Mr. LaPierre violated his fiduciary duties, causing $5.4 million in damages to the NRA.

Notably, they recognized that he had repaid just over $1 million to the charity, which reduced the net damages.

In addition to the financial penalty, the jury determined that Mr. LaPierre should be removed from his position as executive vice president of the gun rights group.

The Manhattan jury found that Mr. LaPierre had misused millions of dollars from the organization’s funds to make personal luxury purchases over a span of 30 years.

The jury found that, in many cases, the NRA’s business arrangements were appropriate.

Mr. LaPierre was not found liable for breaking laws against self-dealing regarding a post-employment contract with the NRA, valued at over $17 million. The jury found that the arrangement had been properly approved in advance by the NRA board.

However, the jury found that the NRA violated whistleblower protections in New York and failed to properly administer assets.

Despite Mr. LaPierre’s resignation on Jan. 31, the judge will now decide whether to permanently bar him from any future leadership roles within the NRA in an upcoming bench trial.

Jury deliberations in the case began on Feb. 16.

NRA, Attorney General Respond

The NRA issued a statement following the verdict, saying that it confirmed the organization’s argument that it had been “victimized by certain former vendors and ‘insiders’ who abused the trust placed in them by the Association.”

“A parade of NRA witnesses and independent experts established that the NRA was the victim of actions that were pursued in secrecy and not in the interests of the association—by former vendors and fiduciaries,” NRA counsel William A. Brewer III said.

In its statement, the NRA noted that New York Attorney General Letitia James couldn’t prove self-dealing or bad faith by the organization’s board and that the organization had taken corrective measures for some issues before the lawsuit was filed in 2020.

“We appreciate the service of the jury and the opportunity to present evidence about the positive direction of the NRA today,” said NRA President Charles Cotton.

Mr. Cotton said the NRA is committed to best practice and will continue to argue its compliance record as the proceedings move to a bench trial.

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference at the Office of the Attorney General in New York on Feb. 16, 2024. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

The verdict was praised by the New York attorney general, a Democrat, soon after it was read.

“In a major victory, my office won our case against the NRA and its senior leadership for years of corruption and greed,” Ms. James wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“Wayne LaPierre blatantly abused his position and broke the law,” she added. “But today, LaPierre and the NRA are finally being held accountable for this rampant corruption and self-dealing.”


Ms. James filed the “dissolution lawsuit” on Aug. 6, 2020, following a 2019 investigation by her office.

In a press release on the day she filed the lawsuit, Ms. James said that the men had used the NRA to benefit themselves, their families, and their friends.

She accused them of violating various state and federal laws and “contributing to the loss of more than $64 million in just three years for the NRA.”

The allegations included that Mr. LaPierre and his family used private planes and took vacations, including privately chartered flights to the Bahamas, funded by the NRA.

The lawsuit also noted that one of the trips included the use of a yacht gifted by an NRA vendor.

According to the complaint, $36 million was spent on luxury black car services, millions on private security services, and $1.2 million in questionable expense reimbursements.

The NRA has said that the lawsuit is merely a political attack meant to dissolve the organization.

Ms. James’s stance toward the NRA was made clear during her campaign for state attorney general, describing it as “an organ of deadly propaganda.”

However, New York Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen ruled in 2022 that the allegations, if proven, wouldn’t be grievous enough to require the dissolution of the NRA, which he noted could infringe on the First Amendment rights and impinge “at least indirectly” on the free speech and assembly rights of millions of its members.

Justice Cohen allowed the lawsuit against its executive to proceed.

Other NRA executives were originally named in the lawsuit as co-defendants.

The original co-defendants included the NRA’s former treasurer and chief financial officer, Wilson “Woddy” Phillips; former chief of staff and executive director of general operations, Josh Powell; and corporate secretary and general counsel, John Frazer.

The jury found no cause to remove Mr. Frazer from his position.

Mr. Phillips was found liable for violating his statutory obligations and ordered to pay $2 million.

On Jan. 5, Mr. Powell settled his case by agreeing to testify for the state, paying $100,000 in restitution to the NRA, and being barred from working with nonprofits.

Michael Clements contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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