"The NRA has lost its leader, its power, and its wealth," said one campaigner. "Today's trial verdict is one more nail in the NRA's political coffin."
Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James and gun control advocates nationwide celebrated on Friday after a Manhattan jury found the National Rifle Association and the NRA's longtime former leader liable in a civil corruption case.
James, who launched the case in 2020, said on social media that "in a major victory, my office won our case against the NRA and its senior leadership for years of corruption and greed. Wayne LaPierre and a senior executive at the NRA must pay $6.35 million for abusing the system and breaking our laws."
After over three decades as the NRA's CEO, LaPierre stepped down in January. The 74-year-old cited health reasons but his resignation from the powerful gun lobbying group came just before the trial began, sparking speculation that he was trying to dodge accountability.
"For years, Wayne LaPierre used charitable dollars to fund his lavish lifestyle. LaPierre spent millions on luxury travel, private planes, expensive clothes, insider contracts, and other perks for himself and his family," James said Friday. "Wayne LaPierre blatantly abused his position and broke the law. But today, LaPierre and the NRA are finally being held accountable for this rampant corruption and self-dealing."
"In New York, you cannot get away with corruption and greed, no matter how powerful or influential you think you may be," she added. "Everyone, even the NRA and Wayne LaPierre, must play by the same rules."
The jury found LaPierre liable for $5.4 million but, because he already repaid some of it, he has to give the group $4.35 million. However, he's not the only executive involved in the case. Jurors also found that NRA general counsel John Frazer must pay $2 million, and former treasurer Wilson "Woody" Phillips violated his official duties. James wants the trio banned from serving in any leadership roles for charities that do business in the state—which will be decided by a judge.
"Jurors also found that the NRA omitted or misrepresented information in its tax filings and violated New York law by failing to adopt a whistleblower policy," according toThe Associated Press. The AP noted that "another former NRA executive turned whistleblower, Joshua Powell, settled with the state last month, agreeing to testify at the trial, pay the NRA $100,000, and forgo further involvement with nonprofits."
Welcoming the jury's decisions, Nick Suplina, senior vice president of law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement that "we're two months into 2024 and the NRA has already managed to lose this trial, their longtime leader, and whatever political relevance it had left."
"This verdict," he added, "confirms what we've seen in recent elections, in state legislatures, and in the halls of Congress: The gun lobby has never been weaker and the gun safety movement has never been stronger."