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What we know about the fight between conspiracist Alex Jones and Sandy Hook families over his assets

What we know about the fight between conspiracist Alex Jones and Sandy Hook families over his assets

Bombastic conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been ordered to liquidate his personal assets as he owes $1.5 billion for his false claims that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, was a hoax.

But the immediate future of his Infowars media platform, and the money behind the business that enriched Jones and connected him to far-right figures, celebrities and politicians, remain uncertain.

The federal bankruptcy judge who ordered the asset liquidation Friday also dismissed a separate bankruptcy case involving Infowars parent company Free Speech Systems.

Before the hearing a combative Jones predicted the end of Infowars could be “very soon,” and the website breathlessly warned that day could be its last broadcast. But he was smiling as he left hours later, calling in to an Infowars show to say, “The bizarre political attempts to hijack the operation have failed.”

The fight over Jones’ assets reached this point after he and Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection in 2022. That came as relatives of many victims of the Sandy Hook shooting won defamation lawsuit judgments of more than $1.4 billion in Connecticut and $49 million in Texas.

Here are some things to know about Jones and Sandy Hook families’ efforts to force him to pay:

Who is Alex Jones and what is Infowars?

Jones, a barrel-chested, gravelly voiced Texas native, has spouted conspiracy theories that range from the Sept. 11 terror attacks being staged to a purported U.N. effort regarding world depopulation.

Jones had just finished high school in Austin when he started broadcasting on a public-access television channel in the 1990s. After getting fired from a local radio station, he began broadcasting from home via his Infowars website.

Jones still hosts a daily four-hour talk show on the site. Interview guests this week included former Fox News star Tucker Carlson and British actor Russell Brand.

From just two employees in 2004, Jones grew his business into a media empire that had a 60-person staff by 2010. Court records show his company has four Austin studios and a warehouse for products he sells online, such as dietary supplements with names like Infowars Life Brain Force Plus and Life Super Male Vitality. Much of his revenue came from those sales.

But both Jones and lawyers for the Sandy Hook families said they expect Infowars to cease operations at some point because of the huge debt he now owes them.

The tie to Sandy Hook

The shooting had barely happened when Jones began pushing the falsehood that it was a hoax. Victims’ families who sued Jones said they were subjected to years of torment, threats and abuse by people who believed the lies told on his show. One father said conspiracy theorists urinated on his 7-year-old son’s grave and threatened to dig up the coffin.

The families fought back with the lawsuits in Connecticut and Texas.

Testifying in the Texas case, Jones acknowledged in 2022 that the shooting was “100 percent real” and that it was “absolutely irresponsible” to call it a hoax.

How much money does Jones have?

Jones has about $9 million in personal assets including his house, according to court filings in his bankruptcy case, and Friday’s ruling means much of that is to be sold off. But his $2.6 million primary home in the Austin area and some other belongings are protected from bankruptcy liquidation. He has already moved to sell his Texas ranch, which is worth about $2.8 million, along with a gun collection and other assets.

The families have a pending lawsuit in Texas accusing Jones of illegally diverting and hiding millions of dollars. He has denied the allegations.

What happens next?

It is not immediately clear what will happen to Free Speech Systems and Infowars. Many of the Sandy Hook families had asked that the company also be liquidated.

About the only certainty is more legal fighting. Lawyers involved in the case noted at least two possible scenarios.

One would be for Infowars and Free Speech Systems to keep operating while efforts to collect on the $1.5 billion debt are made in state courts in Texas and Connecticut. Or Sandy Hook families could go back to the bankruptcy court and ask the judge to liquidate the company as part of Jones’ personal case because he owns the business.

A trustee appointed Friday in Jones’ bankruptcy case now has control over his assets, including Infowars, according to lawyers for the families.

One of them, Chris Mattei, called Infowars “soon-to-be defunct” on Friday.

“Today is a good day,” Mattei said in a text message. “Alex Jones has lost ownership of Infowars, the corrupt business he has used for years to attack the Connecticut families and so many others.”

Jones seemed pleased to still be operating for now.

“Of the two bad outcomes, this is the one that’s way better,” Jones said. “I have not given up. I’m fighting.”

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Collins reported from Hartford, Connecticut, and Vertuno from Austin, Texas.


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