AUSTIN, Texas - Infowars host Alex Jones filed for personal bankruptcy protection Friday in Texas, citing debts that include nearly $1.5 billion he has been ordered to pay to families who sued him over his conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school massacre.
Jones filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Houston. His filing listed $1 billion to $10 billion in liabilities and $1 million to $10 million in assets.
Jones acknowledged the filing on his Infowars broadcast, saying the case will prove that he’s broke and asking viewers to shop on his website to help keep the show on the air.
"I’m officially out of money, personally," Jones said. "It’s all going to be filed. It’s all going to be public. And you will see that Alex Jones has almost no cash."
Jones, who sells dietary supplements and other items on his Infowars site and promotes them during his shows, said he would not be commenting further on the bankruptcy.
For years, Jones described the 2012 massacre as a hoax. A Connecticut jury in October awarded victims’ 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.
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The bankruptcy filing temporarily halted all proceedings in the Connecticut case. A judge was forced to cancel a hearing scheduled for Friday on the Sandy Hook families’ request to secure the assets of Jones and his company to help pay the more than $1.4 billion in damages awarded there.
Chris Mattei, an attorney for the Sandy Hook families in the Connecticut case, criticized the bankruptcy filing.
"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."
An attorney representing Jones in the bankruptcy case did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
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.
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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. Those 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 July in Free Speech Systems’ bankruptcy case in Texas, a budget for the company for Nov. 26 to Dec. 23 estimated product sales will total nearly $3 million, while operating expenses will be nearly $739,000. Jones’ salary is listed at $20,000 every two weeks.
Sandy Hook families have alleged in another lawsuit in Texas that Jones hid millions of dollars in assets after victims’ relatives began taking him to court. Jones’ lawyer denied the allegation.
A third trial over Jones’ comments on Sandy Hook is expected to begin within the next two months in Texas, in a lawsuit brought by the parents of another child killed in the shooting.
Collins reported from Hartford, Connecticut, and Bleed reported from Little Rock, Arkansas. Associated Press writer Jake Bleiberg in Dallas contributed to this report.