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What we know about the struggle between the families of conspirator Alex Jones and Sandy Hook over his assets

HOUSTON (AP) – Bombastic conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was ordered to liquidate his personal assets because 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, in Connecticut, was a hoax.

But the immediate future of his Infowars media platform and the money behind the venture that enriched Jones and connected him with far-right figures, celebrities and politicians remains unclear.

The federal bankruptcy judge who ordered the assets liquidated Friday also dismissed another bankruptcy case involving Infowars' parent company, Free Speech Systems.

Before the hearing, a combative Jones predicted that the end of Infowars could be “very soon,” and the website breathlessly warned that today could be its last broadcast. But he smiled as he left a few hours later, calling into an Infowars show to say: “Bizarre political attempts to hijack the operation have failed.” »

THE brawl over Jones assets reached this point after he and Free Speech Systems filed an application bankruptcy protection in 2022. This came as relatives of many Sandy Hook shooting victims won defamation judgments of more than $1.4 billion in Connecticut and $49 million in Texas.

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

Who is Alex Jones and what is Infowars?

Jones, a barrel-chested, deep-voiced Texas man, conspiracy theories spring up these range from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the so-called UN efforts regarding global depopulation.

Jones had just graduated from high school in Austin when he began broadcasting on a public television station in the 1990s. After being laid off from a local radio station, he began broadcasting from home through his site Internet Infowars.

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

From just two employees in 2004, Jones grew his company into a media empire that had 60 people in 2010. Court records show his company has four studios in Austin and a warehouse for the products he sells online, such as dietary supplements with names like Infowars Life Brain Force Plus and Life Super Male Vitality. A large part of his income came from these sales.

But Jones and attorneys for the Sandy Hook families have said they expect Infowars to cease operations at some point because of the enormous debt it now owes them.

The connection to Sandy Hook

Shooting This had barely happened when Jones began spreading the lie that it was a hoax. The victims' families who sued Jones said they were subjected to years of torment, threats and abuse from people who believed the lies told on his show. A 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 lawsuits in Connecticut and Texas.

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

How much money does Jones have?

Jones owns about $9 million in personal property, including his home, according to court filings in his bankruptcy case, and Friday's ruling means much of that money must be sold. But his $2.6 million primary residence in the Austin area and some other assets are protected from bankruptcy liquidation. He has already decided to sell his Texas ranch, worth about $2.8 million, along with a gun collection and other assets.

The families have a lawsuit pending in Texas accusing Jones embezzlement and illegal concealment of millions of dollars. He denied the allegations.

What happens next?

It is not yet clear what will happen to the free speech and Infowars systems. Many Sandy Hook families had called for the company to be liquidated as well.

The only certainty lies in the continuation of legal battles. Lawyers involved in the case have discussed at least two possible scenarios.

One would be for Infowars and Free Speech Systems to continue operating while $1.5 billion in debt collection efforts are waged in state courts in Texas and Connecticut. The Sandy Hook families could also go back to bankruptcy court and ask the judge to liquidate the company as part of Jones' personal case, because he owns the company.

A trustee named Friday in Jones' bankruptcy case now has control of his assets, including Infowars, according to the families' lawyers.

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

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

Jones seemed happy to continue operating for the time being.

“Of the two bad results, this one is much better,” Jones said. “I didn’t give up. I fight.”

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

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