NRA’s LaPierre Voiced Fear of Prison Time, Ad Exec Testifies
(Bloomberg) -- A former confidant of Wayne LaPierre said that the longtime NRA leader feared the prospect of criminal charges and once described the gun group’s attorney William Brewer as “the only one” who could keep him out of prison.
LaPierre made the comment at a meeting in early 2019, Anthony Makris said Friday at the NRA’s bankruptcy trial. Makris, a senior executive at the ad agency Ackerman McQueen, said LaPierre made the comment amid a contentious breakup between the NRA and the firm.
Makris testified that he asked LaPierre at the meeting why he was turning his back on everyone who’d helped him over the years in favor of Brewer and his Dallas law firm. LaPierre responded that “Bill Brewer is the only one who can keep me out of jail,” Makris said.
Makris didn’t specify why LaPierre feared jail, but The Wall Street Journal reported in October that the Internal Revenue Service is investigating the former NRA leader for possible criminal tax fraud related to his personal expenses.
“We are not aware of any criminal justice inquiry, period,” Kent Correll, counsel to Wayne LaPierre, said in a statement.
The NRA, Brewer, and an IRS spokesman didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about Makris’s testimony.
Makris took the stand during NRA’s bankruptcy trial in Dallas. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harlin D. “Cooter” Hale must decide whether to grant New York Attorney General Letitia James’s request to appoint a trustee to run the gun organization while it’s in bankruptcy or throw the case out.
James sued the gun rights group last year, accusing its senior executives of misspending tens of millions of dollars of the nonprofit’s assets. LaPierre put the organization into bankruptcy in January. James is asking the court to either appoint a trustee to run the NRA instead of LaPierre or to throw out the bankruptcy case, which would make it easier for her to seize its assets if she prevails in a New York lawsuit.
Makris is a longtime senior executive of the NRA’s former ad agency who also hosted the hunting program “Under Wild Skies” on NRATV and other platforms. Makris said his once close friendship with LaPierre went back decades but had begun to fray around 2018 when relations between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen were beginning to unravel.
The NRA has sued its former ad agency, accusing the firm of fomenting a coup as part of an effort to fend off a probe into its billing practices. Ackerman McQueen has denied wrongdoing.
Makris, a former senate staffer and Pentagon official, also testified that LaPierre and several other senior NRA staff members charged entertainment and travel expenses through his Ackerman McQueen expense account. That included a hotel stay at the Four Seasons in Arizona while LaPierre was receiving medical treatment and meals at a restaurant in Old Town, Alexandria, where Makris said he had a “house” account that was billed monthly.
The case is National Rifle Association of America, 21-bk-30085, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).
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