Jones filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston. In the filing, Jones said he owes 50 to 99 creditors; he said his assets amount to between $1 million and $10 million, and his estimated liabilities are between $1 billion and $10 billion.
A Connecticut jury in October ordered Jones to pay $965 million to compensate 15 plaintiffs who suffered from his spreading of conspiracy theories that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax. Twenty first graders and six educators were killed in that shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012. Last month, a judge awarded the families an additional $473 million in punitive damages and attorney fees.
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Why does Alex Jones owe these judgments?
Jones and his Infowars media site portrayed the mass shooting as staged as part of a government conspiracy to crack down on gun possession. Several families sued Jones, saying that he had defamed them and that his lies led to threats and harassment from Jones' followers.
One parent testified that conspiracy theorists urinated on his 7-year-old son’s grave and threatened to dig up the coffin.
Later, Jones said in a video on the site that the Sandy Hook lawsuits were part of a campaign by "the left in this country to weaponize the legal system."
In addition to the Connecticut court action, a Texas jury earlier this year awarded the parents of a child killed in the shooting $49 million in damages.
During that trial, an economist hired by the plaintiffs testified that Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Infowars, were worth up to $270 million and that records showed Jones withdrew $62 million for himself in 2021.
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What does this mean for the Sandy Hook families?
For now, court action has come to a halt in the Connecticut case. A judge canceled a hearing scheduled for Friday on the Sandy Hook families’ request to get payment for damages from Jones' assets.
But Chris Mattei, an attorney for the Sandy Hook families in the Connecticut case, doesn't think Jones' bankruptcy filing will work. “The bankruptcy system does not protect anyone who engages in intentional and egregious attacks on others, as Mr. Jones did," Mattei said in a statement. "The American judicial system will hold Alex Jones accountable, and we will never stop working to enforce the jury’s verdict.”
Later this year, Jones is expected to face another trial in a case filed by Sandy Hook parents.
What else was in Jones bankruptcy filing?
The filing lists families of Sandy Hook victims as creditors, including Robert Parker, whose daughter Emilie Parker, 6, died in the massacre and who is owed $120 million, according to the filing.
Also owed $90 million is William Aldenberg, an FBI agent who responded to the shooting and was accused by Jones of being a crisis actor.
Contributing: Terry Collins, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alex Jones files for bankruptcy, owes Sandy Hook families $1.5 billon