Alex Jones Seeks to Liquidate His Assets to Pay Damages to Sandy Hook Families

The Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is seeking permission from a bankruptcy court to liquidate his personal assets and deliver the proceeds to the Sandy Hook families who are owed more than $1.4 billion in damages for his lies about the 2012 school shooting.

Mr. Jones also filed a separate bankruptcy for his company, Free Speech Systems, and in a hearing next Friday a judge is to rule whether the company will also be liquidated, an outcome favored by a majority of the families. That would shutter Infowars, effective the day of the ruling. It would also place assets from Infowars’ studios and potentially Mr. Jones’s popular social media accounts in control of the families.

Silencing Mr. Jones, who for years has broadcast lies ranging from denying the Sandy Hook shooting to denying the results of the 2020 election, would be a definitive win for the families.

“For too long, Alex Jones has profited from the lies and fear that he peddles every day on Infowars, his corrupt business platform,” said Chris Mattei, a lawyer for the families who sued Mr. Jones in Connecticut. “The Connecticut families, driven by the principle that Jones must not be allowed to hurt or profit from the pain of others, are now on the brink of stripping him of his ability to inflict mass harm.”

Mr. Jones could not immediately be reached for comment.

The financial outcome for the families is far less certain. It will likely be years, if ever, before they receive any meaningful share of the financial damages they won.

Mr. Jones’s personal and company financial assets combined are worth $10 million to $12 million, nowhere near the more than $1.4 billion juries in Texas and Connecticut awarded the families in late 2022.

Dividing $10 million by the plaintiffs entitled to damages comes out to $500,000 each. That does not include substantial bankruptcy-related legal and administrative costs, which are paid first.

An earlier court ruling allows the families to pursue Mr. Jones for the rest of his life for the money they are owed. But his future personal income is highly uncertain given the judgment hanging over him. Starting a new company like Infowars would be difficult at the outset, but doable in the longer term.

“Liquidating Jones’s assets under Chapter 7 is a big step in dismantling Jones’s ability to inflict the harm he can cause the families,” said Avi Moshenberg, a lawyer for the families who sued Mr. Jones in Texas. “But it’s only one step in making him pay the verdicts.”

Marie T. Reilly, a bankruptcy law professor at Penn State University, said the families were achieving justice because “Alex Jones’s financial life is not going to belong to him anymore.” Still, she said, “It is sad that after all of this wrangling, the families are not going to get life-changing compensation.”

Ms. Reilly compared the case to the civil case brought against O.J. Simpson by the family of Ron Goldman, one of the victims of the murders for which Mr. Simpson was tried and acquitted. The family won a wrongful death judgment that with interest ballooned to $100 million over nearly three decades, but they failed to collect even a tiny fraction of that.

Mr. Jones has made a fortune selling diet supplements, survival gear and other merchandise to the audience for his Infowars radio and online show. So far, he has worked to stymie efforts to collect from him. This week on his show, he urged diet supplement buyers to instead purchase products from a line owned by his father.

After 20 first graders and six educators died in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Jones spent years spreading lies that the massacre was a hoax aimed at confiscating Americans’ firearms, and that the victims’ families were actors complicit in the plot. The families suffered online abuse, personal confrontations and death threats from people who believed the conspiracy theory.

In 2018, relatives of 10 victims sued him for defamation, and they were awarded more than $1.4 billion in damages in trials in Texas and Connecticut. As the cases went to trial in 2022, Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, declared bankruptcy. Mr. Jones declared personal bankruptcy soon after. The families have been fighting him in bankruptcy court ever since.

The liquidation filings come after confidential negotiations between the families and Mr. Jones failed to yield a settlement that all the relatives could accept.

Mr. Jones offered last year to pay the families $55 million over 10 years. But the bankruptcy case revealed that Mr. Jones’s monthly expenses averaged $100,000, and his settlement offer included a substantial salary for himself.

The proposed settlement offer also contemplated an agreement from him to never repeat his false claims about the shooting or the families. That promise was particularly important to them.

But settlement negotiations failed. Instead of securing that pledge, the families will now seek to close his business, which they hope will prevent him from further harming them as well as the victims and survivors of other mass shootings he has denied.

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