Alex Jones' personal assets to be sold to pay $1.5B debt to Sandy Hook victims' families

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Friday, June 14, 2024
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HOUSTON, Texas -- A federal judge on Friday ordered the liquidation of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' personal assets but was still deciding on his company's separate bankruptcy case, leaving the future of his Infowars media platform uncertain as he owes $1.5 billion for his false claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.

Judge Christopher Lopez approved converting Jones' proposed personal bankruptcy reorganization to a liquidation. He was hearing testimony Friday afternoon on whether Infowars' parent company, Texas-based Free Speech Systems, also should be liquidated.

Many of Jones' personal assets will be sold off, but his primary home in the Austin area and some other belongings are exempt from bankruptcy liquidation. He already has moved to sell his Texas ranch worth about $2.8 million, a gun collection, and other assets to pay debts.

A liquidation of Free Speech Systems would mean Jones loses control of the company, and its assets would be sold off. He would lose the Infowars studios in Austin and its equipment, the company's social media accounts, and all copyrights. A bankruptcy trustee would oversee the company and liquidation. The Sandy Hook families also want Jones to lose his personal social media accounts, but he opposes that. Some of Jones' supporters, including former President Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone, have suggested they might try to buy Infowars.

Jones did not seem to react when the judge ruled on his personal assets, but he became more animated when discussion turned to the possible liquidation of Free Speech Systems. At times, he mumbled under his breath or shook his head when attorneys for some of the Sandy Hook families discussed statements Jones made on his Infowars show this week.

The Sandy Hook families' lawyers believe Jones would keep broadcasting his show in some other fashion. They told the judge they intend to go after any of his future earnings. Jones has told his audience that he will return and claimed the loss of his company would only make him more popular.

"This is probably the end of Infowars here very, very soon. If not today, in the next few weeks or months," Jones told reporters before Friday's hearing. "But it's just the beginning of my fight against tyranny."

He has been telling his followers to download videos from his online archive to preserve them and pointing them to a new website of his father's company if they want to continue buying the dietary supplements he sells on his show.

Jones has about $9 million in personal assets, according to the most recent financial filings in court. Free Speech Systems, which employs 44 people, has about $6 million in cash on hand and about $1.2 million worth of inventory, according to J. Patrick Magill, the chief restructuring officer appointed by the court to run the company during the bankruptcy.

Jones and Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection in 2022, when relatives of many victims of the 2012 school shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, won lawsuit judgments of more than $1.4 billion in Connecticut and $49 million in Texas.

Chris Mattei, a lawyer for the families in the Connecticut case, said liquidating Free Speech Systems would "enable the Connecticut families to enforce their $1.4 billion in judgments now and into the future while also depriving Jones of the ability to inflict mass harm as he has done for some 25 years."

The relatives said they were traumatized by Jones' comments and his followers' actions. They have testified about being harassed and threatened by Jones' believers, some of whom confronted the grieving families in person, saying the shooting never happened and their children never existed. One parent said someone threatened to dig up his dead son's grave.

Jones and Free Speech Systems initially filed for bankruptcy reorganization protection that would have allowed him to run Infowars while paying the families with revenues from his show. But the two sides couldn't agree on a final plan, and Jones recently filed for permission to switch his personal bankruptcy from a reorganization to a liquidation.

The families in the Connecticut lawsuit, including relatives of eight dead children and adults, have asked that Free Speech Systems' bankruptcy case also be converted to a liquidation. But the parents in the Texas suit - whose child, 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, died - want the company's case dismissed.

Lawyers for the company filed documents indicating it supported liquidation, but attorneys for Jones' personal bankruptcy case want the judge to dismiss the company's case.

If Free Speech Systems' case is dismissed, the company could return to the same position it was in after the $1.5 billion was awarded in the lawsuits. Efforts to collect the damages would go back to state courts in Texas and Connecticut. That could give Infowars an extended lifeline.

It also could lead to a "race to the courthouse," Kyle Kimpler, an attorney for the families seeking liquidation, said. It's possible one family could get everything while another gets nothing, he added.

"I want a case converted to a Chapter 7 (liquidation) so that the assets that have been collected can be equitably distributed among creditors," he said.

Although Jones has since acknowledged that the Sandy Hook shooting happened, he has been saying on his recent shows that Democrats and the "deep state" are conspiring to shut down his companies and take away his free speech rights. He also has said the Sandy Hook families are being used as pawns in the conspiracy. The families' lawyers say that is nonsense.

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