By DAVE COLLINS and JILL BLEED Associated Press
Infowars host Alex Jones filed for personal bankruptcy protection in Texas on Friday as he faces nearly $1.5 billion in court judgments over conspiracy theories he spread about the Sandy Hook school massacre.
Jones filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in bankruptcy court in Houston. His filing lists $1 billion to $10 billion in liabilities owed to 50 to 99 creditors and $1 million to $10 million in assets.
The bankruptcy filing comes as Jones faces court orders to pay nearly $1.5 billion in damages to relatives of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting for calling the massacre a hoax.
An attorney representing Jones in the bankruptcy case did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
A Connecticut jury in October awarded the families $965 million in compensatory damages, and a judge later tacked on another $473 million in punitive damages. Earlier in the year, a Texas jury awarded the parents of a child killed in the shooting $49 million in damages.
The bankruptcy filing temporarily halted all proceedings in the Connecticut case and forced a judge to cancel a hearing scheduled on Friday morning on the Sandy Hook families’ request to attach the assets of Jones and his company to secure money for the nearly $1.4 billion in damages awarded there.
Chris Mattei, an attorney for the Sandy Hook families in the Connecticut case, criticized the bankruptcy filing on Friday.
“Like every other cowardly move Alex Jones has made, this bankruptcy will not work,” Mattei said in a statement. “The bankruptcy system does not protect anyone who engages in intentional and egregious attacks on others, as Mr. Jones did. The American judicial system will hold Alex Jones accountable, and we will never stop working to enforce the jury’s verdict.”
In the Texas and Connecticut cases, some relatives of the 20 children and six adults killed in the school shooting testified that they were threatened and harassed for years by people who believed the lies told on Jones’ show. One parent testified that conspiracy theorists urinated on his 7-year-old son’s grave and threatened to dig up the coffin.
Erica Lafferty, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, testified that people mailed rape threats to her house.
Jones has laughed at the awards on his Infowars show, saying he has less than $2 million to his name and won’t be able to pay such high amounts. The comments contradicted the testimony of a forensic economist at the Texas trial, who said Jones and his company Free Speech Systems have a combined net worth as high as $270 million. Free Speech Systems is also seeking bankruptcy protection.
In documents filed in Free Speech Systems’ bankruptcy case in Texas, a budget for the company for Oct. 29 to Nov. 25 estimated product sales would total $2.5 million, while operating expenses would be about $740,000. Jones’ salary was listed at $20,000 every two weeks.
Collins reported from Hartford, Connecticut, and Bleed reported from Little Rock, Arkansas.