- A Connecticut judge ordered Alex Jones to pay an additional $437 million to families of Sandy Hook victims, raising the amount owed to a whopping $1.44 billion in the case
- Jones has faced three lawsuits from Sandy Hook families over his conspiracy theories in the 2012 attack — two in Texas and one in Connecticut
- The third and final trial is set to start later this year in Texas. Jones could be ordered to pay even more to families
The judge and jury have spoken against Alex Jones. And after a billion-plus dollars in judgments, there’s still no end in sight for the conspiracy theorist.
A Connecticut judge on Thursday ordered Infowars host Alex Jones and his company to pay an additional $473 million in punitive damages for his false conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
The ruling now brings the total judgment to a monstrous $1.44 billion against the right-wing conspiracy theorist in a lawsuit filed by the victims’ families in the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.
And the trouble still isn’t over for Jones, who could face even more financial penalties in another trial set to begin later this year. The mounting legal woes have opened Jones to a host of issues, including possible sanctions, allegations of perjury and renewed scrutiny in the investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Why does Alex Jones now owe $1.5 billion to Sandy Hook families?
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis on Thursday awarded the families $150 million for violations of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, which bans deceptive business practices and unfair competition, and about $323 million for the plaintiffs’ attorney fees and costs.
That ruling came on top of the $965 million Jones was already on the hook to pay after a jury last month ordered him to compensate the 15 plaintiffs for defamation, infliction of emotional distress and violations of the unfair trade act.
“The record clearly supports the plaintiffs’ argument that the defendants’ conduct was intentional and malicious, and certain to cause harm by virtue of their infrastructure, ability to spread content, and massive audience including the ‘infowarriors,'” Bellis wrote in her 45-page ruling Thursday.
Jones was the target of three separate lawsuits — two in Texas and this one in Connecticut. A jury in one of the Texas cases order Jones pay $50 million to one Sandy Hook family. Jones is set to face one final trial in Texas later this year.
FROM AUGUST:Alex Jones faces more defamation trials and possible criminal charges
THE TRIAL:Alex Jones takes stand in defamation trial over his false Sandy Hook shooting hoax claims
Sandy Hook families, Alex Jones react to judgment
Christopher Mattei, one of the lawyers for the Sandy Hook families, said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY, citing Bellis’ decision recognized the ‘intentional, malicious and heinous’ conduct of Jones and his media companies, including Infowars and Free Speech Systems.
Bellis also ordered Jones not to move any of his assets outside of the United States.
“This is the first step in making sure that Jones personally will pay every penny he has to the families he spent years tormenting,” Mattei said.
Jones has said previously he would appeal any verdicts.
Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis, in an emailed statement to USA TODAY after Thursday’s ruling, said, “To paraphrase Karl Marx, the verdict was tragedy, this latest ruling is farce. It makes our work on appeal that much easier.”
‘Living hell’:Sandy Hook parents say Alex Jones’ claims spawned death threats, harassment
Just the beginning:Alex Jones ordered to pay Sandy Hook parents more than $4 million, and more judgments are expected
What is Alex Jones’ net worth? Will he pay Sandy Hook families?
It’s unclear how much of the money any plaintiffs will actually see as Jones has said he has little money to pay damages amid the three lawsuits he’s facing from Sandy Hook families.
In July, Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Infowars, filed for bankruptcy before one of the defamation trials was set to start in Texas. In April, three of Jones’ other companies, including InfoW, which was formerly known as Infowars, also filed for bankruptcy.
During his show on Thursday, Jones called the ruling against him “ridiculous” and a joke. He claimed he has “almost nothing,” something that he says would be proven amid the bankruptcy process.
“Well, of course, I’m laughing at it,” Jones said Thursday. “It’d be like if you sent me a bill for a billion dollars in the mail. Oh man, we got you.”
Jones’ net worth isn’t clear. Bernard Pettingill, Jr., a forensic economist, testified during a defamation case earlier this year that Jones could be worth between $135 million and $270 million, Forbes reported. Those figures largely came from the success of Free Speech Systems and Infowars.
Jones has sought repeatedly to downplay those figures amid mounting legal woes. He previously said on his show that he’s likely worth closer to $2 million and laughed off the amount asked of him.
Forbes reported five Texas homes worth an estimated $7.5 million were linked to Jones. He transferred ownership of one of the most valuable properties, which was worth an estimated $3.5 million, to his wife as multiple legal cases loomed.
How did we get here? Multiple legal cases target Alex Jones
Jones spent several years spreading conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook tragedy on his far-right media company Infowars, which spans online, TV and radio.
He made countless claims, including that the mass school shooting didn’t happen and that the 26 killed were actors, leading to widespread harassment of the victims’ families and forcing some of them into hiding.
Ten families sued Jones in 2018, including two suits filed in Texas and one in Connecticut, where the deadly shooting occurred. As Jones finally admitted the shooting was real in 2019, he continued spreading misinformation about the attack and the victims’ families.
Before even stepping inside a courtroom, Jones lost all three of the cases by refusing to participate in the court-mandated discovery process. Three judges ruled that Jones was liable to pay damages to the families for being uncooperative. The two trials have been about how much Jones will have to pay.
Two juries, one in Connecticut and another in Texas, found Jones liable for damages.
In the Austin, Texas defamation case, a jury awarded nearly $50 million in damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis the parents of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis, 6 who initially sought $150 million. In Connecticut, he now owes a whopping $1.44 billion to the 15 plaintiffs.
What’s next for Alex Jones? Jan. 6 committee, possible perjury issues?
A third and final trial over Jones’ hoax claims in Austin, Texas to pay damages to the parents of another 6-year-old first grader, is expected to start toward at end of this year.
Similar to the two previous court cases, Jones has been found liable for damages without a trial because he failed to turn over many records to the plaintiffs.
Along with the mounting financial turmoil, Jones is also being eyed for a host of other issues.
During his first trial in Texas, one of Jones’ lawyers inadvertently sent the plaintiffs’ lawyers the contents inside Jones’ smartphone, appearing to catch Jones in at least one lie while on the witness stand. He’d previously said that he’d searched his phone and no such messages existed.
Jones sought to shrug the revelation off in cross-examination, ridiculing an opposing lawyer and denying that he lied. But legal experts say the episode could open Jones up to a possible perjury charge. Criminal charges of perjury are rare and difficult to prove, but Jones’ prominence may make him an attractive target, especially in liberal Austin.
Even if prosecutors never pursue a case, Jones could face further consequences from Texas Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, who presided over the case. Before the trial, lawyers for the parents suing Jones filed a motion asking the judge to sanction him for failing to produce evidence. Gamble could rule on that motion.
The text messages also opened Jones up to scrutiny by lawmakers investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The committee, which had spent months showing how former President Donald Trump relentlessly pushed his false claims of a rigged election, subpoenaed Jones to testify. And the panel’s chairman accused him of helping to organize a rally near the Capitol that preceded the insurrection.
The lawmakers were reportedly given Jones’ texts. An attorney for the parents suing Jones, Mark Bankston, gave the committee two years’ worth of Jones’ messages, CNN reported, citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter. Bankston told The Associated Press that he was “cooperating with the committee” but did not comment further.
Contributing: Mike Snider, USA TODAY; Chuck Lindell, Austin American Statesman; Associated Press