Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones filed for bankruptcy on Friday (Dec 2), less than two months after a jury ordered him and the parent company of his Infowars website to pay nearly US$1 billion for spreading lies about the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting.
Jones filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors with the US bankruptcy court in Houston, a court filing showed.
The filing said Jones has between US$1 million and US$10 million of assets and between US$1 billion and US$10 billion of liabilities. The extent of Jones’ personal wealth is unclear.
A lawyer for Jones did not immediately return a request for comment.
Jones claimed for years that the 2012 killing of 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was staged with actors as part of a government plot to seize Americans’ guns. He has since acknowledged the shooting occurred.
In October, a Connecticut jury ordered Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Infowars, to pay nearly US$1 billion in damages to numerous families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting.
The trial was marked by weeks of anguished testimony from the families, who recounted how Jones’s lies about Sandy Hook compounded their grief.
Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy in July.
In a separate case in Texas, a jury in August decided Jones must pay the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Sandy Hook massacre US$45.2 million in punitive damages, on top of US$4.1 million in compensatory damages.
Jones’s lawyers have said he would appeal both the Connecticut and Texas verdict.
An economist in the Texas case estimated that Jones is personally worth between US$135 million and US$270 million.
The court filing lists the plaintiffs who won verdicts against Jones as his largest unsecured creditors.
Among them are Robert Parker, father of six-year-old Emilie Parker, who was awarded US$120 million by a Connecticut jury, and FBI agent William Aldenberg, who was among the first law enforcement officers on the scene of the 2012 shooting.
In addition to the US$1 billion compensatory damages, Jones was ordered to pay US$473 million in punitive damages in the Connecticut case.
Connecticut judge Barbara Bellis had temporarily blocked Jones from moving any personal assets out of the country at the request of the plaintiffs, who claimed Jones was trying to hide assets to avoid paying.
The Connecticut and Texas Sandy Hook plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The families have sued Jones in Texas state court seeking to unwind what they say are millions of dollars worth of illegitimate transfers from Jones’s company to shell entities he controls.
They allege those transactions were intended to shield Jones’ assets from potential judgments.