A jury in New York found officials of the National Rifle Association (NRA) liable for millions in damages on Friday.

Democratic Attorney General Letitia James of New York sued the gun-rights organization in August 2020 seeking the group’s dissolution. The jury found former NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre liable for $5.4 million, Fox News reported.

The jury also ruled against former NRA Treasurer Woody Phillips and current NRA Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer, but did not find them liable financially, according to The Reload. A New York judge, Joel M. Cohen, ruled that James could not seek dissolution of the NRA in March 2022.

A six-person jury found that LaPierre, Phillips and Frazer failed to properly manage the group’s assets, The Reload reported. Cohen will have to determine how to address the group’s future, including potentially ordering an independent monitor to oversee the group.

James made a number of statements that showed hostility toward the NRA during her 2018 campaign for attorney general. “The NRA holds [itself] out as a charitable organization, but in fact, [it] really [is] a terrorist organization,” she told Ebony magazine.

James also vowed to “target the NRA” in a July 2018 release by her campaign, vowing to “investigate the legitimacy of the NRA as a charitable institution.” “The NRA is an organ of deadly propaganda masquerading as a charity for public good,” James claimed in the release.

The 74-year-old LaPierre, who announced his resignation Jan. 5 for health reasons, told a New York court on Jan. 30 that the disease affected his neural functioning.

“LaPierre and senior leaders at the NRA blatantly abused their positions and broke the law,” James said in a statement released Friday. “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.”

“A jury verdict in a high-profile New York trial confirms what the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) contended all along – that it was victimized by certain former vendors and ‘insiders’ who abused the trust placed in them by the Association,” the NRA said in a statement released Friday. “The jury found no cause to remove NRA General Counsel and Secretary John Frazer, the remaining NRA employee who is an individual defendant in the action.”

The group also highlighted that it made substantial reforms in its release.

“The NRA established that it adopted new policies and accounting controls, displaced vendors and insiders who abused the Association, and accepted reparations for costs determined to be excess benefits,” the gun-rights group said in their statement. “Most of these corrective measures – part of an internal investigation ignited by the NRA Board – were adopted before the NYAG filed her lawsuit.”

Harold Hutchison on February 23, 2024

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