Wilson “Woody” Phillips, Jr. once worked at an employee-benefits consulting firm that was supposed to pay $45,000 to a Texas company. Yet, somehow, the money was rerouted.
According to a report from The New Yorker, when the companies were going back and forth about where the missing $45,000 went, they realized it had been routed to an account in Maryland, under the name of Hughes.
“They gave me records saying who the account belonged to,” accounts-payable manager Mary Hughes recalled in an interview. “And, sure enough, it was Woody’s.”
Hughes then walked through all of the payments that Wyatt made the previous years and found several cases where checks were deposited into his account instead of the firm. It totaled at least one million dollars in embezzled funds. At least three of Hughes’ former colleagues corroborate her story.
He was ultimately fired but charges weren’t brought against him. The fear the company had was that they would lose customers if it was broadcast.
“Wyatt’s doors would have closed if the company prosecuted him,” Hughes told the New Yorker. “I mean, we were dealing with people’s money, and our C.F.O. was stealing.”
Hughes said that it always bothered her that Phillips got away with stealing the money, particularly since he went off to work for the NRA in wake of his job. And in that capacity, he manages all of the funds for the organization. That’s when Hughes decided to speak out.
“Enough is enough,” she said.
“The NRA has no knowledge of the matters in question and, naturally, is not at liberty to comment on any issues that do not involve the NRA,” the organization said in a statement. “With respect to his relationship with the NRA, Mr. Phillips was a longtime employee, and he continues to provide value to the Association and its members.”
Hughes said that she confronted Phillips after learning of the embezzlement.
“And he said, ‘Mary, who else knows about this?’” she recalled. She walked back to her office and after he left she made copies of the invoices that had been paid. She saw they were all “cleverly crafted fakes” the report revealed. The problem is that none of the payments had ever happened.
“It was a down payment on this, or the escrow on that,” she said after following the money. “I saw that he started the scheme almost as soon as he walked into the door.”
Immediately after all of it was uncovered, Phillips was meeting with lawyers. He ultimately paid $500,000, but she said he owed over $1 million.
This is the man running the finances of the NRA.