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New York jury holds ex-gun lobby chief accountable for graft

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A New York jury has rendered a verdict holding former NRA gun lobby chief Wayne LaPierre responsible for corrupt mismanagement of the organization.

The judgment, delivered on Friday, mandates LaPierre and a senior NRA executive to pay a penalty of $6.35 million due to what state attorney general Letitia James termed “years of corruption and greed.”

During the civil trial, LaPierre faced accusations of utilizing the National Rifle Association as his personal financial resource, resulting in a $5.4 million loss for the organization due to his misconduct. Although LaPierre has repaid $1 million of the sum, the jury’s decision signifies a significant legal blow against him and the NRA.

LaPierre’s announcement in January of his intention to step down from his role as NRA president, citing health reasons without specifying details, preceded the trial’s conclusion. The lawsuit against LaPierre and other top NRA figures was initiated by Attorney General James in August 2020, culminating in the recent verdict.

In her response following the announcement of the verdict, Attorney General James emphasized the principle of equal accountability under New York law, asserting that even influential entities like the NRA and individuals like Wayne LaPierre are not exempt from legal scrutiny. She hailed the verdict as a significant triumph in upholding justice.

The case unveiled egregious misappropriation of NRA funds, with LaPierre and senior management allegedly indulging in extravagant expenses such as private jets, lavish meals, and luxury vacations. Attorney General James underscored the legal obligation of not-for-profit organizations like the NRA to utilize funds for charitable purposes rather than personal enrichment.

The NRA’s historic role as a proponent of gun rights in the U.S. contrasts with the widespread public support for stricter gun control measures, particularly in the face of frequent mass shootings and the prevalence of firearms. Despite polling indicating a desire for legislative reform, political efforts have consistently faltered, with the NRA’s substantial financial influence in electoral politics being a significant factor, as evidenced by its substantial campaign spending in past elections.

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