- Alex Jones was ordered Wednesday to pay nearly $1 billion to the families of Sandy Hook victims.
- How much Jones will pay for damages could depend on the results of a Texas bankruptcy case.
- Jones could also quit podcasting, which is one of his main sources of income.
A Connecticut jury on Wednesday ordered Infowars host Alex Jones to pay the families of Sandy Hook victims a staggering $965 million in compensatory damages for libel after he claimed the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 was a hoax.
Each of the 15 plaintiffs, which includes the families of the victims and an FBI agent who responded to the shooting, were awarded between $28 million and $120 million.
That doesn’t include a separate August ruling when a Texas jury ordered Jones to pay $49.3 million in damages to the parents of one of Sandy Hook’s victims, six-year-old Jesse Lewis. .
Jones faces another case presented by the parent of a boy who died in the shooting, also back in Texas.
Now the question remains: how will Alex Jones pay for the damages?
A July bankruptcy filing by Infowar’s parent company, Free Speech Systems, which is controlled by Jones, showed the company had total revenue of $14.3 million as of May 31, with nearly $11 million of that coming from product sales. This could include vitamin supplements that Jones regularly promotes on her show, for example.
A forensic economist who previously testified in the first trial in Texas also estimated that Jones and Free Speech Systems had a combined wealth of between about $135 million and $270 million.
Jones has repeatedly claimed he doesn’t have the money to pay the judgment and has been asking for donations since the verdict.
“The media says, ‘I won’t pay.’ Yeah ’cause I don’t,” Jones said on his show Thursday.
Legal experts told Insider that Jones may not be required to fully compensate the families. However, due to the impossibly high figure the jury set out from the start, no matter how much wiggle room Jones has at the end, the final figure could still represent a debt that will follow Jones for the rest of his life.
Even so, there are still legal issues that stand in the way of compensation for Sandy Hook families.
A lawyer for Alex Jones did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on the story.
Alex Jones’ Decaying Bankruptcy ‘Shield’
Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy July 29 under a specific Chapter 11 bankruptcy provision — known as Subchapter V — that was created by Congress to help small businesses through what is usually a long and expensive process.
One of the ways the provision achieves this is to reduce some of the oversight involved in bankruptcy, as Subchapter V trustees will have “limited investigative duties,” said specialist attorney Nicholas A. Koffroth. bankruptcies at Fox Rothschild, to Insider.
By doing so, “(Free Speech Systems) could hopefully sort of get through bankruptcy quickly without digging into their financial affairs too much,” he said.
Jones lost the three separate lawsuits against him last year in Connecticut and Texas by default because he failed to turn over documents, including financial records. This year’s lawsuits have focused on determining the dollar amount of damages Jones should pay the families.
But the move ultimately may not have worked out in favor of Jones and his company. The filing has since provided more information about Jones’ operations and attracted closer scrutiny of their financial records, Koffroth said.
“What’s been revealed so far is that there’s this pretty complicated web of entities that Alex Jones controls, or his family controls, (and how they) have kind of traded ‘money in an unusual way,’ the bankruptcy attorney said.
One such entity includes a company called PQPR Holdings, which appoints Jones as its manager. According to the bankruptcy filing, Free Speech Systems owes the company nearly $54 million.
But Bernard Pettingill, Jr., the forensic economist who testified in the Texas lawsuit and provided an estimate of Jones’ wealth, said the PQPR is a front company that Jones uses to pay himself off.
Family members of nine of the Sandy Hook victims filed a petition about a month after Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy. He asked a judge to remove Jones from control of parent company Infowars and appoint a committee representing the families that could review the operations of Free Speech Systems.
The members collectively known as “Sandy Hook Families” also claimed that filing for bankruptcy was a legal tactic to limit the financial damages Jones could be held liable for.
“It really seems, and what the [Sandy Hook Families] have argued that this is really a contrived relationship intended to render Free Speech Systems insolvent and unable to pay a judgment if there is one,” Koffroth said.
In September, a bankruptcy judge in Houston removed Jones’ attorney and restructuring manager from the bankruptcy case and expanded the investigative duties of a trustee who was appointed by the Justice Department and who was already overseeing the case, according to the New York Times.
Part of the trustee’s responsibility will be to probe Jones’ various dealings, which could yield “meaningful” results against Jones.
“What appears to be an attempt to shield Free Speech Systems from having to pay these judgments — at this point, doesn’t look like the ploy is going to work,” Koffroth said.
On Wednesday, the day of the nearly billion-dollar judgment, a Houston judge approved the trustee’s request to begin mediation between Jones, Free Speech Systems and the families of the Sandy Hook victims.
Alex Jones could go dark
Another possible but highly unlikely scenario that Jones could attempt to pay heavy damages is to shut down his Infowars podcast, Koffroth said.
“He might just decide to quit podcasting to stop generating revenue for Free Speech Systems,” he said. “And saying, ‘Well, we don’t have any income now, so I can’t pay in the future. All you have is just what’s left you can scrounge.'”
“I find it hard to believe Alex Jones would actually quit podcasting. (Families) might find this win enough if he did, but it’s certainly a wrinkle in their ability to collect from Free Speech Systems” , added Koffroth.
On Thursday, Jones returned to his regular broadcast, claiming to lead “the assault on the New World Order.” A viewer called to suggest Jones host a fundraising dinner.
“I’m a big boy. I knew this was coming. I’m going to go all the way,” Jones said.