New York Attorney General Investigation

Case Summary

As a result of the sprawling evidence of financial mismanagement, self-dealing, and questionable business practices, New York Attorney General Letitia James launched an investigation into whether the NRA violated New York’s charities law in 2019.

On August 6, 2020, the New York Attorney General filed a complaint against the NRA in New York State Supreme Court (New York County) on August 6, 2020.  The AG’s complaint charges 18 causes of action against the NRA and four executives (CEO Wayne LaPierre, General Counsel John Frazer, former Chief of Staff Josh Powell, and former CFO Woody Phillips). While the complaint contains nearly 700 paragraphs, the factual allegations largely center around widespread looting of the NRA as a charity, with CEO LaPierre as the ringleader of that activity. The complaint alleges improper personal benefits for senior NRA executives, including that NRA leaders used vendors and contractors to hide improper expenditures, self-dealing, and related party transactions. According to the complaint, “LaPierre effectively dominates and controls the NRA Board as a whole through his control of business, patronage and special payment opportunities for board members, and his public allegations to the NRA membership of a ‘criminal conspiracy’ against board members and officers who question his activities.”

Between 2020 and 2023, the case moved tediously through motion practice, discovery, and pre-trial motions – many of which are featured on NRA Watch under the “Filings” category. In early 2024, a full blown trial was conducted. At the eve of trial, Josh Powell settled with the Attorney General, acknowledging wrongdoing and paying a monetary fine. In addition, just days before the trial began, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre resigned.

After a six-week trial in early 2024, a jury found:

  • The NRA was found LIABLE for failing to properly administer charitable assets.
  • All three individual defendants (former CEO Wayne LaPierre, former CFO Woody Phillips, and current General Counsel John Frazer) were found LIABLE of breach of fiduciary duties to the NRA.
  • With respect to damages for this claim, the jury found that LaPierre and Phillips owed the NRA millions for ill-gotten benefits. More specifically, in the time period at issue, they found that LaPierre caused $5.4 million in damages, and Philips caused $2 million in damages.
  • The jury found cause for LaPierre to be removed from the NRA (LaPierre has already stepped down). Conversely, the jury found there was no cause for General Counsel Frazer to be removed (despite their finding that he breached his fiduciary duties).
  • The NRA was found LIABLE for not having proper whistleblower protections in place.  
  • The NRA was found LIABLE for failing to evaluate whistleblower claims and/or retaliation against several whistleblowers.
  • The NRA and Frazer were found LIABLE for making false filings to New York State.
  • LaPierre, Phillips and the NRA engaged in wrongful related party transactions.

However, for certain (but not all) transactions involving the NRA, the jury found that the NRA properly ratified these transactions after the fact.

With respect to Wayne LaPierre’s post-employment golden parachute contract, the jury found the NRA was engaging in a wrongful related party transaction. However, the jury found that the AG had not proved that the contract was not approved prior by the NRA Board.

The filings on this page are a selection of the more significant filings in the matter.  The full docket can be accessed at the New York courts website here.

New York Deepens Its Investigation Into the NRA

New York Times, Dec. 9, 2019


April 26, 2019
NY Attorney General commands NRA to preserve documents relevant to investigation.
August 16, 2019
NRA petition's to participate in Oliver North’s deposition
August 18, 2019
Attorney General argues the NRA may not participate in North deposition
August 19, 2019
The Court denies the NRA’s petition to attend North’s deposition
September 30, 2019
NYAG petitions the court to force Ackerman’s compliance with subpoenas.
February 24, 2020
Court rules against the NRA on discovery motion concerning Acerkman materials
August 6, 2020
NYAG Files Suit Against NRA
August 16, 2021
NYAG Files Amended Complaint
March 2, 2022
Court Decision on NRA’s Motion to Dismiss NYAG Complaint
October 21, 2022
Answer by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre to NYAG’s Complaint
September 20, 2023
NYAG Files Motion to Take Deposition of NRA Board Member Willes Lee
January 8, 2024
NRA Trial Day 1: The AG’s Opening Argument
January 9, 2024
NRA Trial Day 2: The NYAG Starts its Case & the NRA Preview its Defense
January 10, 2024
NRA Trial Day 3: Nonprofit Expert Takes the Stand
January 11, 2024
NRA Trial Day 4: Current NRA Employees Testify to the Depths of the Problem
January 12, 2024
NRA Trial Day 5: Week Ends with Defendant Woody Phillips Taking the Stand
January 16, 2024
NRA Trial Day 6: The NRA’s Shady Web of Vendor Payments And Luxury Spending
January 17, 2024
NRA Trial Day 7: NRA CFO and Former CFO Testify on Key Financial Arrangements
January 18, 2024
NRA Trial Day 8: Former NRA Chief Lobbyist Chris Cox Takes the Stand
January 19, 2024
NRA Trial Day 9: Week Two of the NRA Trial is in the Books
January 22, 2024
NRA Trial Day 10: Testimony from NRA Board Presidents Past & Current
January 23, 2024
NRA Trial Day 11: Oliver North Speaks Out
January 24, 2024
NRA Trial Day 12: Deeper Dive Into the NRA’s Relationship with Ackerman McQueen
January 26, 2024
NRA Trial Day 13: “Wayne’s World” Was Expensive
January 29, 2024
NRA Trial Day 14: LaPierre in His Own Words - “I Wasn't The Compliance Guy”
January 30, 2024
NRA Trial Day 15: On His Second-To-Last Day As NRA CEO, LaPierre Again Took The Stand
January 31, 2024
NRA Trial Day 16: Four Additional Witnesses Testify as the NYAG Winds Down Its Case
February 1, 2024
NRA Trial Day 17: NYAG's Last Witness Sums it Up - "Consistent Control Violations" at the NRA
February 5, 2024
NRA Trial Day 18: The NYAG Rests its Case
February 6, 2024
NRA Trial Day 19: “Did Wayne LaPierre Make Mistakes? Yes, He Did.”
February 7, 2024
NRA Trial Day 20: NRA CFO Compares the NRA to the Titanic
February 8, 2024
NRA Trial Day 21: The NRA’s Parade of Experts Continues
February 13, 2024
NRA Trial Day 22: The Individual Defendants Return to the Stand
February 14, 2024
NRA Trial Day 23: “I couldn’t believe it, but when you add it all up, it’s over $1 million.”
February 15, 2024
NRA Trial Day 24: Closing Arguments