BREAKING: NRA Guilty as Charged, LaPierre Fined $4.4M, Philips Fined $2M, Frazer Will Not Be Removed

It took five days of deliberation for the jury in New York City to reach verdicts on the four concurrent trials that will decide much of the future of the National Rifle Association, but the verdict is finally in.

The jury has found Wayne LaPierre guilty of diverting millions of dollars from the Association so that he could live in luxury. They determined that he did $5.4 million in monetary harm to the organization and credited him with the approximately $1 million he has reportedly already repaid.

In addition, the jury found cause for LaPierre to be “removed” from his position. While he already resigned from his longtime role at the NRA as of January 31, it will be up to Judge Joel M. Cohen to determine whether he should be barred from any future role with the NRA or any other New York not-for-profit.

Wilson “Woody” Philips, the former treasurer and CFO was also found liable for harm and ordered to repay $2 million to the NRA.

John Frazer, the NRA’s current secretary and general counsel, was also found guilty of violating his statutory obligation to “discharge the duties of his position in good faith.” He was, however, not found to have caused any direct monetary damages to the Association.

The National Rifle Association – the entity – was also found guilty of having failed to properly administer itself for the period from March 20, 2014 and May 2, 2022.

Here’s how the jury’s findings break out:

Wilson Phillips: Guilty of breach of fiduciary duties, damages of $2 million
Post employment contract as a related-party transaction…Yes
Related party transaction “willful and voluntary”…Guilty

John Frazier: Guilty of breach of fiduciary duty…No harm to the Association
Cause for Removal…No
False Filings…Yes

Wayne LaPierre: Guilty of breach of fiduciary duty, damages of $4.4 million
Post employment contract as related-party transaction…No
Cause for removal…Yes

And the big questions regarding the National Rifle Association . . .

Failure to administer charitable assets…Yes
Various related party transactions…Yes
Failure to adopt a whistleblower policy…Yes
Whistleblower retaliation…Yes
False filings…Yes

What, in the end, does all of this mean?

It means that Judge Joel M. Cohen will have the responsibility for deciding whether LaPierre will be barred from ever serving on the board of any New York charity or not-for-profit in the future.

More importantly, the finding against the NRA for “various related-party transactions” will give Cohen the power to appoint an independent monitor to oversee the NRA’s finances if he so chooses. For some still serving on the board of directors, it means the days of  lucrative “related-party transactions” are over.

Hopefully, this won’t drive away members in disgust. Whether the Association’s damaged credibility is too much to overcome is a question for another day.

For years, anyone daring to question the conduct and capabilities of Wayne LaPierre was subjected to the kind of name-calling and venom that he normally lavished on the “liberal media”…or anyone else who dared to suggest any impropriety at the NRA.

His assaults were echoed, then amplified, by members of the NRA’s board of directors described as “LaPierre’s loyalists.” After six weeks of trial and mountains of evidence, we see their loyalties may have been guided more by avarice than admiration.

The trial has demonstrated that allegations that were routinely described in the past by LaPierre and his supporters as “rumors,” “falsehoods,” “exaggerations,” or “slanderous lies” have been proven to be none of those. They’ve been proven to be something even more damaging to the Association…facts.

So now what?

If you’re one of those “loyalists” who is still the NRA board, you’re probably lobbying for the NRA to appeal the verdicts. Unfortunately, the facts of the matter were indisputable, inarguable, and today’s verdict inevitable.

The NRA and its “leadership” — at least during the period from March 20, 2014 through May 2, 2022 — clearly didn’t follow through on their duties of care and responsibility. They have now been charged, tried, and found guilty of breach of trust. What Judge Cohen does from here remains to be seen.

We’ll keep you posted.

Here’s the New York Attorney General’s statement regarding the verdict . . .

New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that the jury in her case against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and three current and former senior leaders has found the defendants liable for violating the law. The jury found that Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and former Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wilson “Woody” Phillips were liable for financial misconduct and corruption in managing the organization. The jury concluded that LaPierre abused his position for his personal benefit and steered lucrative contracts to friends and relatives, including spending millions of organization dollars on lavish travel, private planes, expensive clothing, and more. LaPierre was found to have caused the NRA $5.4 million in damages and must pay $4.35 million. The jury also determined that Attorney General James has shown cause for removal of LaPierre from the NRA based upon his violations.

The jury also found that the NRA failed to properly administer charitable funds and violated state laws that protect whistleblowers. Phillips and the current General Counsel and Corporate Secretary John Frazer were found liable for failing to uphold their duties as nonprofit executives. Phillips was ordered to pay $2 million in damages. Frazer and the NRA were also found liable for making false statements on the NRA’s regulatory filings.

“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 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. We will not hesitate to pursue justice against any individual or organization that violates our laws or our trust, no matter how powerful they are.”

Over the course of a six-week trial, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) presented evidence revealing the extent of the NRA and its senior leaders’ violations of the law and misuse of NRA funds. The evidence presented included:

  • Invoices of repeated private flight trips to the Bahamas taken by Wayne LaPierre with friends and family and paid for by the NRA, including some invoices which concealed passengers and destinations;
  • Invoices of helicopter trips to NASCAR races to avoid being stuck in traffic;
  • Expense reports submitted by Wayne LaPierre and paid by the NRA for reimbursement of outdoor mosquito treatment at his house, landscaping for his house, and gifts for friends and family;
  • A no-show post-employment contract between the NRA and Woody Phillips to pay him $360,000 annually in addition to $3,500 in monthly office rent;
  • Invoices worth more than $4 million dollars from the NRA’s then-largest vendor, Ackerman McQueen, for “out-of-pocket” expenses that had no detail and were used as a pass through for other expenses incurred by NRA Executives, including high end travel expenses for Wayne LaPierre and hair and makeup expenses for LaPierre’s wife; and
  • Testimony from whistleblowers detailing harassment, intimidation, or other forms of retaliation by the NRA for raising concerns about the misuse of funds.

Following the jury determination of liability against the NRA and the individual defendants, a separate court proceeding before Justice Cohen, sitting without a jury, will be held to determine whether to award non-monetary relief, including:

  • Whether an independent compliance monitor, which would report to the Court, should be appointed to ensure the proper administration of the NRA’s charitable assets.
  • Whether an independent governance expert should be appointed to advise the Court on reforms necessary to the NRA’s governance to ensure the proper administration of the NRA’s charitable assets.
  • Whether Wayne LaPierre and Woody Phillips should be permanently barred from re-election or appointment as an NRA officer or director, or from any other New York state not-for-profit corporation.
  • Whether the NRA and John Frazer should be barred from soliciting or collecting funds on behalf of any charitable organization operating in New York.

Attorney General James thanks the jury for their time and service.

Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against the NRA, LaPierre and the other current and former senior officers in August 2020. In January 2021, Judge Joel Cohen ruled in Attorney General James’ favor and denied motions to dismiss the case and change the court venue. In January 2021, the NRA filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid accountability by trying to reorganize in Texas. In May 2021, a federal bankruptcy court in Texas rejected the NRA’s bankruptcy petition, stating, “that the NRA did not file the bankruptcy petition in good faith.”

In September 2022, Judge Joel Cohen rejected another attempt by the NRA to challenge the Attorney General’s claims and affirmed that Attorney General James can seek an independent monitor to ensure the proper administration of the NRA’s charitable assets as part of her lawsuit. In December 2023, the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department affirmed that decision. In January 2024, a final effort to delay the trial was rejected by the Appellate Division, First Department.

On the eve of the trial, Wayne LaPierre stepped down as Executive Vice President and CEO of the NRA, a role he held for more than 30 years. Also days before the trial, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) reached a $100,000 settlement with the NRA’s former Executive Director of Operations and Chief of Staff Joshua Powell in which he admitted wrongdoing.

The OAG’s litigation and trial team was led by Assistant Attorney General and Special Counsel Monica Connell and Chief of the Enforcement Section Emily Stern, with a team of attorneys and legal assistants, including Bureau Chief James Sheehan, Assistant Attorneys General Jonathan Conley, Erin Kandel, Jonathan Lester, Alexander Mendelson, Steve Shiffman, Daniel Sugarman, Stephen Thompson, and William Wang, and legal assistant Nyna Sargent — all of the Charities Bureau. Additional assistance was provided by Jacqueline Sanchez, Sophia Friedman, Luz Ceballos-Lopez and Imani Saddler. The Charities Bureau is part of the Division for Social Justice, which is overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and led by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

10 Responses

  1. “Hopefully, this won’t drive away members in disgust.”

    That was the point, wasn’t it? Tomorrow we’ll hear the cheering and “I told you sos” from the gun-cnontrol organizations. They’ll spin this as a great victory for them.

    “Whether the Association’s damaged credibility is too much to overcome is a question for another day.”

    No it’s not; we can answer it today. The NRA is dead. Fold their tent and liquidate their assets. That should make the Donks very, very happy.

    1. Anyone who financially supported the criminal actors running the NRA over the past couple of decades are the ones most responsible for the current state of affairs. No one can claim surprise for waking up with their bed aflame when they set it on fire themselves. Take some responsibility for goodness sake- you can’t ever expect to beat lung cancer if you don’t have the self-discipline to stop smoking…

    2. Alien,

      I only semi-agree. I have seen people turn their luve around from ‘abject loser’ to ‘loved and respected’. Organizations can do that, also, with the right leadership. I do agree that the current NRA is in ruins. Leadership will determine whether it changes its ways, finds its mission, and gets up off the floor, or whether smolders, cools, and dies out.

      1. That’s true … I’m a doubting Thomas. I have been proven correct in the gun control organizations’ victory lapping, though.

  2. LaPierre got off way too easy. $4.4 million is worth less today than when he took it from the NRA. Not only did inflation work in his favor, he essentially got an interest free loan. Now imagine compound interest beginning a decade ago.

  3. WLP jumped with a 17 million dollar parachute over and above what he stole. He’s laughing all the way to the bank.

  4. Penalty: LaPierre Fined $4.4M
    Penalty: Philips Fined $2M

    Penalty: Tax payers, over $33,000,000 tax payer dollars for the states investigation and court battle.

    LaPierre left the NRA with a $17 million’ish ‘golden parachute’ thing … the math: $17 million – $4.4 million = $12,600,000.00 in LaPierre’s ‘pocket’

  5. I just received my NRA magazine with the ballot. I need to check the nominees and select one or two who were nominated by petition, rather than by the Board. The Board is part of the problem.

    I will only vote for one or two people, otherwise my vote will be diluted.

    I will not vote until a couple weeks before the deadline, waiting to see how this all shakes out.

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