- 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 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 will begin in Texas later this year. Jones could be sentenced to pay even more to families
The judge and jury have spoken to Alex Jones. And after more than a billion dollars in verdicts, there is still no end in sight for the conspiracy theorist.
A Connecticut judge Thursday ordered Infowars host Alex Jones and his company to pay additional $473 million in damages for his false conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
The ruling now brings the total verdict to a monstrous $1.44 billion against the right-wing conspiracy theorist in a lawsuit filed by the families of the victims in the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six schoolteachers. came.
And the problem is still not over for Jones, who could face even more financial sanctions in another trial that kicks off later this year. The mounting legal troubles have opened Jones to a host of issues, including potential sanctions, charges of perjury and renewed scrutiny in the investigation into the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol uprising.
Why Does Alex Jones Now Owe $1.5 Billion to Sandy Hook Families?
Supreme Court Justice Barbara Bellis awarded the families $150 million on Thursday for violations of The Unfair Business Practices Act in Connecticutprohibiting deceptive business practices and unfair competition, and approximately $323 million for plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and expenses.
That ruling came on top of the $965 million that Jones had already been ordered to pay after a jury ordered him last month to compensate the 15 plaintiffs for defamation, infliction of emotional distress and violations of the unfair trade law.
More:What’s next for Alex Jones? More defamation lawsuits, more damages and possible criminal prosecution
More:Alex Jones takes stand in defamation lawsuit over his false Sandy Hook shooting claims
“The file clearly supports the plaintiffs’ argument that the defendants’ conduct was intentional, malicious, and would certainly cause harm by virtue of their infrastructure, ability to distribute content and mass audiences, including the ‘infowarriors’,” Bellis wrote in her 45-page statement 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 orders Jones to pay $50 million to a Sandy Hook family. Jones will face one final trial in Texas later this year.
Sandy Hook Families, Alex Jones Respond to Judgment
Christopher Mattei, one of the attorneys for the Sandy Hook families, said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY, citing Bellis’ decision that the “deliberate, malicious and heinous” behavior of Jones and his media companies, including Infowars and Free Speech Systems, was recognized.
Bellis also ordered Jones not to move any of his assets outside of the United States.
“This is the first step to ensure Jones will personally pay every cent he has to the families he has tormented for years,” Mattei said.
Jones has previously said he will appeal any rulings.
Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis, said in a statement emailed to USA TODAY after Thursday’s ruling: “To paraphrase Karl Marx, the verdict was a tragedy, this latest ruling is a farce. It makes our work in higher profession so much easier.”
‘Living hell’:Sandy Hook parents say Alex Jones’ allegations sparked death threats and harassment
Just the beginning:Alex Jones To Pay Sandy Hook Parents Over $4 Million, And More Sentences Are Expected
Alex Jones net worth? Will he pay Sandy Hook’s families?
It’s unclear how much of the money the plaintiffs will actually see, as Jones has said he has little money to pay damages amid the three lawsuits he faces from Sandy Hook families.
In July, Jones and Free Speech Systems, Infowars’ parent company, filed for bankruptcy before one of the Texas libel lawsuits was set to begin. In April, three of Jones’ other companies, including InfoW, formerly known as Infowars, also filed for bankruptcy.
During his show on thursdayJones called the statement against him “ridiculous” and a joke. He claimed he has “almost nothing”, something he said would be proven during the bankruptcy process.
“Of course I laugh about it,” Jones said on Thursday. “It would be like sending me a billion dollar bill in the mail. Oh man, we got you.’
Jones’ net worth is not clear. Bernard Pettingill, Jr., a forensic economist, testified earlier this year during a defamation lawsuit that Jones could be worth between $135 million and $270 million. Forbes reported:. Those numbers came largely from the success of Free Speech Systems and Infowars.
Jones has repeatedly tried to downplay those numbers amid mounting legal troubles. He said earlier on his show that he is probably worth closer to $2 million and laughed off the amount being 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, estimated to be worth an estimated $3.5 million, to his wife as multiple lawsuits loomed.
How did we get here? Multiple lawsuits 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 numerous claims, including that the mass school shooting did not take place and that the 26 dead were actors, leading to widespread harassment of the victims’ families and forcing some of them to go into hiding.
Ten families sued Jones in 2018, including two lawsuits filed in Texas and one in Connecticut, where the deadly shooting took place. When Jones finally admitted that the shooting was real in 2019, he continued to spread misinformation about the attack and the victims’ families.
Before even stepping into a courtroom, Jones lost all three 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 their non-cooperation. The two lawsuits were 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 lawsuit, 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 demanded $150 million. In Connecticut, he now owes a whopping $1.44 billion to the 15 plaintiffs.
What’s next for Alex Jones? January 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 begin late this year.
As with the two previous lawsuits, Jones is liable for damages without trial because he failed to deliver many records to the plaintiffs.
In addition to the mounting financial turmoil, Jones is also being watched for a host of other issues.
During his first trial in Texas, one of Jones’ attorneys accidentally sent the plaintiffs’ attorneys content in Jones’s smartphone, and Jones appeared to catch at least one lie while on the witness stand. He had previously said that he had searched his phone and that such messages did not exist.
Jones tried to shrug off the disclosure in a cross-examination, ridiculing an opposing attorney and denying he lied. But legal experts say the episode could expose Jones to a possible charge of perjury. Criminal charges of perjury are rare and difficult to prove, but Jones’ fame can make him an attractive target, especially in liberal Austin.
Even if prosecutors never prosecute a case, Jones could face further repercussions from Texas judge Maya Guerra Gamble, who presided over the case. Prior to the trial, attorneys for the parents who sued Jones filed a motion asking the judge to punish him for failing to provide evidence. Gamble could rule on that motion.
The text messages also opened Jones to investigation by lawmakers investigating the January 6 U.S. Capitol uprising.
The commission, which had spent months showing former President Donald Trump relentlessly pushing his false claims about a rigged election, subpoenaed Jones to testify. And the panel chair accused him of helping to organize a rally near the Capitol that preceded the uprising.
Lawmakers reportedly got the lyrics from Jones. An attorney for the parents who sued Jones, Mark Bankston, gave the commission two years’ worth of Jones’ posts, CNN reported:, citing an unnamed person familiar with the case. Bankston told The Associated Press that he was “cooperating with the committee”, but did not comment further.
Contributors: Mike Snider, USA TODAY; Chuck Lindell, Austin American statesman; Associated Press