Testifying in corruption trial, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre details lavish lifestyle

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Wayne LaPierre, the longtime leader of the National Rifle Association, confirmed under oath in a New York City courtroom on Friday that he used the organization’s finances to charter private jets, family trips, black car services and upscale gifts for friends.

LaPierre, 74, other leaders of the NRA and the organization itself are fending off a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James in 2020 that alleges they violated nonprofit laws and redirected millions of dollars in NRA funds. For personal use.

He took the stand Friday morning for the first time, answering most questions with a simple “yes” or “no.” Citing health issues, he previously said he intended to Resignation at the end of this month From the gun rights group, which he led for more than 30 years as its executive vice president.

LaPierre testified that he had no knowledge of the large sums the NRA was spending on private charter planes and black car services, although he did not question the dollar figures when presented with invoices and receipts.

He asserted under oath that NRA funds were used to finance a flight from the Bahamas to Washington, D.C., in 2017 at a cost of more than $22,000, for example. He acknowledged that NRA rules require employees to travel by bus.

He testified that sometimes family members would travel on private planes when he was not present. He allowed an $11,000 trip to his niece, Colleen Sterner, an NRA employee, and her daughter, for example.

He testified that he and his family often traveled on a luxury yacht, known as Illusions, owned by David McKenzie, the head of a television production company that was under contract with the NRA. Mackenzie and his wife hosted the LaPierres for vacations in the Bahamas and joined them on trips to India and Abu Dhabi.

LaPierre acknowledged that the NRA’s board of directors did not approve these trips, and asserted that various financial disclosure forms he filled out in 2017 and 2018 did not include details of his financial connections with a “non-NRA entity.”

McKinsey’s company, Associated Television International, produced a program called “Crime Strike,” which LaPierre once hosted. LaPierre was asked if he knew that the NRA paid “millions” to Associated Television for its services. He replied that he did not know the exact number.

Assistant Prosecutor Jonathan Conley showed jurors copies of repayment orders for gifts LaPierre had bought for friends and colleagues over the years, including $830 worth of Bergdorf Goodman candlesticks for Mackenzie’s daughter.

Conley showed that Lieber also provided payment forms for gifts from Neiman Marcus, Christmas tips for landscapers at his home, membership fees at a golf club in Washington and hotel rooms for Sterner, including a 2017 stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel that cost more than $6,000.

In the Friday morning session, LaPierre — with a furrowed brow and even tone — rarely explained his answers beyond “yes” or “no.” He appeared more animated when answering questions about why he decided to open NRA bankruptcy proceedings, insisting he did not do so to avoid regulatory scrutiny from New York State.

“I filed for bankruptcy to protect the NRA from dissolution and seizure of its assets by the Attorney General, and to position the NRA for the future in a state where we will have a fair regulatory playing field, which is Texas.” He said.

Other defendants, including the NRA itself, are accused of violating the nonprofit’s laws and internal policies because they enriched themselves, contributing to the gun rights group losing more than $64 million in three years, the suit says.

they Wilson “Woody” Phillipsformer NRA treasurer and chief financial officer, and John Fraser, corporate secretary and general counsel.

If jurors find LaPierre, Phillips or Frazer liable, they will recommend the amount of money each must repay to the NRA.

State Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen, who has the final say on financial damages and remedies, can decide whether the defendants should be permanently barred from serving on the board of any New York charity and whether an independent monitor should oversee the finances. For the National Rifle Association.

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