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Alex Jones files for bankruptcy, owing nearly $1.5B to Sandy Hook families

Alex Jones moved millions of dollars out of his company and into companies controlled by himself, friends or relatives, as the potential for damages mounted. (Video: Joy Yi, Jonathan O'Connell/The Washington Post, Photo: Mike Segar/The Washington Post)
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Infowars founder Alex Jones filed for bankruptcy Friday, weeks after the total he owes in damages to the families of victims of the 2012 mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., reached nearly $1.5 billion.

Jones, 48, has been ordered to pay $1.4 billion in a Connecticut case and $45.2 million in a Texas case to families harmed by his years of lies that the Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 children and six adults were killed, was a hoax. Jones and his attorney have said he will appeal.

Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of Texas, Jones listed more than $969 million owed to 17 people in the Sandy Hook cases in his bankruptcy filing, marking all the claims as “disputed.”

He said that his assets were between $1 million and $10 million and that his debts were between $1 billion and $10 billion. He said that his debts were primarily business debts and estimated that he owed 50 to 99 creditors. He also listed $150,000 in credit card debt. Jones filed for bankruptcy for Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Infowars, in July.

Lawyers for Jones did not respond to an email and a phone call from The Washington Post on Friday morning.

The Chapter 11 filing Friday was the latest turn in Jones’s financial battle as he faces the Sandy Hook lawsuits.

Ahead of his trials, Jones began transferring millions from Free Speech Systems to other companies he, his family or friends are affiliated with, The Post found. He has accrued wealth from Infowars and the sale of dietary supplements.

He filed for bankruptcy protection for Infowars in April. In July, as one of his defamation trials unfolded in Texas and just before jury selection began in his trial in Connecticut, Jones filed for bankruptcy for Free Speech Systems. Attorneys for the Sandy Hook families have accused Jones of attempting to delay accountability.

Chris Mattei, an attorney representing Sandy Hook families in Connecticut, called the Friday bankruptcy filing a “cowardly” move in a statement to The Post.

“The bankruptcy system does not protect anyone who engages in intentional and egregious attacks on others, as Mr. Jones did,” Mattei said. “The American judicial system will hold Alex Jones accountable, and we will never stop working to enforce the jury’s verdict.”

The most recent penalty was levied against Jones last month, when a Connecticut judge added $473 million to the $965 million Jones had been ordered to pay the families of eight victims.

On his podcast, Jones called the penalty “preposterous” and indicated that he could not pay it. His lawyer, Norm Pattis, told The Post in a statement that the ruling was a farce.

“It makes our work on the appeal that much easier,” Pattis said at the time.

The right-wing conspiracy theorist spread falsehoods after the December 2012 massacre, claiming it was staged and that the parents of victims were actors. Families of the victims testified that the false claims subjected them to harassment and threats from conspiracy theorists, compounding their suffering.

Jones said in a deposition that he believed the shootings occurred and blamed his behavior on having “like a form of psychosis back in the past.” At the Connecticut trial in September, however, he lashed out during testimony, saying he had already apologized and was “done saying I’m sorry.”

Jones has continued hosting his Infowars segment, which on Thursday provided a platform for antisemitism from the rapper Ye, who praised Nazis and Adolf Hitler in an interview with Jones. Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, said he liked Hitler, loved Jewish people and loved Nazis, to which Jones responded with a laugh, saying, “Well, I have to disagree with that.” The episode has drawn condemnation from politicians, Jewish groups and others.

Timothy Bella, Jonathan O’Connell, Andrea Salcedo and Joanna Slater contributed to this report.