Infowars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday, a little less than two months after a jury ordered him to pay $965 million to people who suffered from his false claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.
The action, which many expected, is an attempt by Jones to avoid paying the penalties that have been piling up in the wake of his relentless promotion of a lie that the 2012 school shooting never happened and families interviewed on the news were paid actors. (As the verdict was read, Jones mocked the jury on air, vowing to appeal.)
Beyond the $965 million verdict, Jones was ordered to pay another $472 million in punitive damages and attorney’s fees earlier this month. And in August, a jury ordered him to pay the parents of a 6-year-old killed in the massacre $49.3 million in punitive and compensatory damages.
The bankruptcy filing, made with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Houston, said Jones has between $1 million and $10 million in assets. It also notes that the parent company of Infowars, Free Speech Systems (also owned by Jones), filed for bankruptcy in July. (In a previous Sandy Hook defamation trial, a financial expert testified Jones’s net worth likely ranges between $135 million and $270 million.)
Jones, for years, has amplified a conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook shooting was a government hoax staged with “crisis actors” to influence gun control policy. Sued by five Sandy Hook families and a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who responded to the shooting, he was found to have defamed the families and violated a state law forbidding the sale of products with false statements. (He frequently pushed vitamin supplements and survival gear on shows in which he lied about the shooting.)
Jones has since admitted the shooting did occur.
“This depravity, and cruel, persistent course of conduct by the defendants establishes the highest degree of reprehensibility and blameworthiness,” the judge said in her 45-page November decision.
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