In an apparent attempt to avoid having to pay the judgments against him in the multiple defamation cases filed and won by the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings, inflammatory right-wing broadcaster and recidivist conspiracy theorist Alex Jones filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions for his primary media outlet, InfoWars, and two other companies he controls, IWHealth and Prison Planet TV.
The bankruptcy filings were made with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, court documents show.
Jones is in this situation because he lost three defamation lawsuits filed by families of the murdered schoolchildren in both Texas and Connecticut after he used his media outlets to promote a false conspiracy theory that the killings of 20 first-graders and six teachers in Newtown were part of a government-led false flag operation designed to confiscate Americans’ firearms.
It was a slanderous lie designed to incite his right-wing audience and gain customers for the over-priced supplements that Jones hawks to his gullible followers, but it also led to the harrassment of the victims’ families — whom Jones claimed were part and parcel of his supposed false flag conspiracy — who were increasingly accosted by people who bought into Jone’s lies.
Jones lost the two cases filed in his home state of Texas, not on the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims, but because he simply refused to provide the documentation — including his financial records — that he was ordered by the court to submit.
He took a similar tact in a case filed in a Connecticut court, where a judge ruled that Jones was liable for damages by default after refusing to submit the required records. He was cited for contempt of court last month by a Connecticut judge after postponing a scheduled deposition in a defamation case, supposedly because of a medical emergency. When Judge Barbara Bellis of Connecticut Superior Court discovered that the supposedly deathly ill Jones was actually in his studio broadcasting a live InfoWars program, she ordered that Jones be fined $25,000 for the first weekday he fails to appear for testimony with an additional $25,000 fine added to the daily total for every day that he fails to give his deposition.
It’s a mounting toll that added up quickly and likely provided Jones with some of the initial impetus to try to escape the penalties by filing for bankruptcy protection. However, Jones ultimately escaped that liability when the judge ordered that the fines be refunded to the InfoWars host after he finally showed up for his deposition. he is still on the hook, however, for the large judgments against him.
According to The New York Times:
“In its court filings, Infowars said that it had up to 49 creditors, as much as $50,000 in estimated assets and up to $10 million in estimated liabilities. The two other companies said they also had up to 49 creditors, with IWHealth stating it had up to $1 million in assets while Prison Planet TV said it had up to $50,000.”
Jones had recently offered to settle the defamation suits for a total of $120,00o per plaintiff, but the families of the Sandy Hook victims turned down his offer, proving that money mattered less to them in this legal conflict than transparency and the ability to discover the truth behind Jones’ finances and the inner workings of his nefarious propaganda machine.
Yesterday, Jones was still on the air, begging his listeners for money to keep his media empire afloat.
“We’re maxed out and I don’t want to lay off our employees,” Jones said.
According to The Guardian, Neil Heslin, the father of a Sandy Hook victim, had this to say about Jones’ latest ploy to avoid fiscal and moral responsibility for his vile campaign of lies:
“It is what it is. We’ll see where it all goes. He’s tried everything to avoid everything.”
The Sandy Hook families can now only hope that the judge in the new bankruptcy case will prioritize their claims before allowing Alex Jones access to his remaining funds to continue in his output of detestable conspiracy theories.
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Original reporting by Derrick Bryson Taylor at The New York Times and by Lauren Aratani at The Guardian.
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CORRECTION: Originally this story included a sentence that stated “It’s a mounting toll that added up quickly and likely provided Jones with the impetus to try to escape the penalties by filing for bankruptcy protection.” It has been corrected to indicate that the judge in the defamation case rescinded the fines once Jones attended a deposition last week.