New York Attorney General Investigation

NRA Trial Day 23: “I couldn’t believe it, but when you add it all up, it’s over $1 million” WITH TRANSCRIPT

February 14, 2024

Today in Court

Today, Wayne LaPierre concluded his testimony and was followed by continued testimony from NRA General Counsel John Frazer. After Frazer, the defense called NRA-ILA Chief of Operations John Commerford, NRA Managing Director of Security Chris Lapham, and accountant Mark Ramblin. The defense also played video testimony from former CFO Craig Spray and former NRA President Carolyn Meadows.

Summary of Today’s Testimony

  • LaPierre attorney Kent Correll continued his direct examination of LaPierre.
    • Correll showed LaPierre pictures of him at NASCAR races and elicited testimony of various NRA business that was done at these races. He then also showed LaPierre a 2013 edition of Time Magazine that listed LaPierre as one of the most 100 influential people in the world. [NRA Watch Note: in maybe the least relevant question to date at this six week trial, Correll asked LaPierre how it felt to be on the same list as Pope Francis]. 
    • LaPierre testified as to the “threat level” to his personal security, calling it “horrible” and describing a swatting incident at his home.
      • LaPierre testified he was told by NRA security personnel that he needed to fly private. He said that part of the concern was that if he flew commercial someone might throw a cup of coffee on him, with other passengers taping it on their phones, thus creating a viral video that would damage the NRA.
    • LaPierre acknowledged not running the private charter flight arrangement by the board of directors. 
    • For nearly 25 minutes, Correll walked LaPierre through the various expenditures and his process for going back and determining what he owed the NRA.
      • Eight checks LaPierre wrote the NRA between 2020 and 2023 were admitted to evidence, with LaPierre testifying “I couldn’t believe it, but when you add it all up, it’s over $1 million.”
      • When asked if he was confident that he uncovered all the money he owes the NRA, LaPierre testified that his metric for success was “I could look in the mirror and face God to say that I’ve done everything I can to square this up.”
      • With respect to gifts given to vendors and others by LaPierre and his wife, LaPierre testified that he always believed solidifying relationships was important and gift giving was part of that.
      • He testified that while he “didn’t view it as inappropriate at the time”, he personally repaid the NRA for private charter flights on which his wife (but not him) was the passenger. 
    • With respect to his contract that provided upwards of $17 million in potential post-retirement payments, LaPierre testified that the head of the NRA’s compensation committee told him it was in the best interest of the NRA.
      • LaPierre testified that he first told a board member in 2019 that the contract was a “burden” on the NRA, but acknowledged that the contract was only re-worked to significantly reduce his post-employment benefits in January 2021, after the NYAG brought suit and referred to the contract as a “poison pill.”  
  • The NRA’s counsel, Sarah Rogers, focused on testimony that painted the NRA as the victim of various financial arrangements at the heart of the trial.
    • On the ATI relationship in which they filmed episodes of a show starring LaPierre called “CrimeStrike”, LaPierre testified that he owned the relationship with this vendor and that he was “shocked” to hear they kept charging the NRA after they stopped producing shows. He testified that it “looked like they took advantage of the NRA.”
      • Previous testimony and evidence have shown that LaPierre traveled on multiple yachts owned by a Hollywood producer who was a stakeholder in ATI.
    • With respect to the longtime public relations firm of the NRA, Ackerman McQueen, LaPierre agreed with Rogers’s statement that the NRA was the victim of “fraud” in the relationship.
    • On travel agent Gayle Stanford who booked all of LaPierre’s travel, LaPierre said he did not approve the extra 10% management fee she tacked onto her bills and that it was fair to say this was a fraud on the NRA.
    • He also agreed that his longtime erstwhile friend Tony Makris committed fraud on the NRA.
  • During the NYAG’s cross-examination, LaPierre admitted that he didn’t make any reimbursement payments to the NRA until the NYAG filed suit.
    • Pointing out that LaPierre claims that the NRA’s purported “course correction” began in 2017, the NYAG got LaPierre to admit that his first repayment to the NRA for excess benefits did not occur until three years into the course correction, another repayment for inappropriate private flights billed to the NRA was not made until four years into the course correction, and that a repayment for lodging and gifts was not made until five years into the course correction. 
  • John Frazer took the stand and faced cross-examination from the NYAG.
    • Frazer testified that, despite NRA policy providing for disciplinary action if an officer engages in related party transactions without approval, LaPierre was never disciplined. 
  • Following the conclusion of Frazer’s testimony, the jury heard testimony from NRA-ILA Chief of Operations John Commerford, NRA Managing Director of Security Chris Lapham, and accountant Mark Ramblin. 
  • Video testimony of former CFO Craig Spray was also played. He testified that during the fall of 2018 and 2019, he was worried about the NRA being able to make payroll. He testified further that during his tenure at the NRA, the group did not have a compliance officer. 
  • The NRA then played some previously recorded deposition clips from former NRA President Carolyn Meadows, largely pertaining to her interactions with Oliver North around the 2019 NRA convention.


From thank you “notes” (more like a form letter) from Oprah, to pictures at NASCAR events, to Time Magazine’s list of influential people, the direct examination of Wayne LaPierre was quite a trip down memory lane for LaPierre. NRA Watch is skeptical how much this helped LaPierre with the jury. Moreover, the decision to have LaPierre painstakingly go through every reimbursement check he wrote the NRA to repay benefits improperly granted to him and his family was a curious one, as it seemed to re-emphasize the duration and magnitude of his misconduct.  

 In its questioning, the NRA further tried to separate itself from LaPierre, its former longtime leader, and his preferred vendors. The NRA appears to be hanging its hat on the jury making a distinction between the NRA and LaPierre in its deliberations, which seems like a tricky notion when, as its current CFO has testified, LaPierre really was the NRA for nearly three decades. Testimony has all borne out a “Wayne says” culture at the NRA where his word was the final word. It may be the NRA’s best and only strategy at this point – but it’s dubious at best.    

What’s Next?

Closing arguments will start tomorrow morning at 9:15 AM. The individual defendants will begin, followed by the NRA, and then the NYAG. Judge Cohen indicated there was some leeway tomorrow to go later than a normal court day – perhaps as late as 5:30 PM. The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Friday morning. 

Disclaimer: The following summaries and analysis are prepared by individuals at the courthouse listening to the testimony being offered in the New York Attorney General’s case against the NRA. These summaries do not purport to cover every fact or occurrence discussed during the trial. The posts may be updated as soon as transcripts are available from the court, including to cross-reference specific testimony.