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Alex Jones ordered to liquidate assets to pay for Sandy Hook conspiracy suit

Alex Jones to liquidate personal assets
Alex Jones ordered to liquidate personal assets to pay Sandy Hook damages 02:27

A federal judge on Friday ordered the liquidation of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones′ personal assets, but also dismissed the bankruptcy case of Infowars' parent company, Free Speech Systems. 

The decisions leave the future of his Infowars media platform uncertain, as Jones owes $1.5 billion for his false claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.

Judge Christopher Lopez approved converting Jones' proposed personal bankruptcy reorganization to a liquidation, but threw out the attempted reorganization of his company, Austin, Texas-based Free Speech Systems. Many of the Sandy Hook families had asked that the company also be liquidated.

It wasn't immediately clear what will happen to the company that Jones built into a multimillion-dollar moneymaker over the past 25 years.

One scenario could be that the company and Infowars are allowed to keep operating while efforts to collect on the $1.5 billion debt are made in state courts in Texas and Connecticut, where the families won lawsuits against Jones, according to lawyers involved with the case.

Another scenario is that lawyers for the Sandy Hook families go back to the bankruptcy court and ask Lopez to liquidate the company as part of Jones' personal case, because Jones owns the business, lawyers said.

Many of Jones' personal assets will be sold off, but he is expected to keep his primary home in the Austin area and some other belongings that are exempt from bankruptcy liquidation. He already has moved to sell his Texas ranch worth about $2.8 million, a gun collection and other assets to help pay debts.

Jones did not have any real reaction after the judge issued the order about his personal assets. CBS affiliate KHOU reported that every seat in the gallery was filled when the hearing began this morning. 

Jones has been telling his web viewers and radio listeners that Infowars' parent company, Free Speech Systems, is on the verge of being shut down because of the bankruptcy. A headline on Infowars' website Friday said: "Watch Live! Will This Be The Final Day Of Infowars Transmissions?"

Alex Jones Speaks To The Media Outside The Sandy Hook Trial In Waterbury, Connecticut
InfoWars founder Alex Jones speaks to the media outside Waterbury Superior Court during his trial on September 21, 2022 in Waterbury, Connecticut. / Getty Images

"This is probably the end of Infowars here very, very soon. If not today, in the next few weeks or months," Jones told reporters before the hearing began. "But it's just the beginning of my fight against tyranny."

Jones has been urging his followers to download videos from his online archive to preserve them and pointing them to a new website of his father's company if they want to continue buying the dietary supplements he sells on his show.

Jones and Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection in 2022, when relatives of many victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, won lawsuit judgments of more than $1.4 billion in Connecticut and $49 million in Texas.

Lawyers for the Sandy Hook families have been seeking liquidation.

"Doing so will enable the Connecticut families to enforce their $1.4 billion in judgments now and into the future while also depriving Jones of the ability to inflict mass harm as he has done for some 25 years," Chris Mattei, a lawyer for the families in the Connecticut case, said.

The relatives said they were traumatized by Jones' comments and his followers' actions. They testified about being harassed and threatened by Jones' believers, some of whom confronted the grieving families in person saying the shooting never happened and their children never existed. One parent said someone threatened to dig up his dead son's grave. 

Robbie Parker, whose daughter Emily was among those killed in the shooting, told CBS News before the hearing that seeing Jones take accountability is "part of a healing process" for him. 

"There's the forgiveness part, that's a very internal, very sacred and personal thing, and then there's the things that you see in your life that have been impacted by things that Alex Jones has done, and so that accountability helps bring another layer of closure," said Parker. 

Jones and Free Speech Systems initially filed for bankruptcy reorganization protection that would have allowed him to run Infowars while paying the families with revenues from his show. But the two sides couldn't agree on a final plan, and Jones recently filed for permission to switch his personal bankruptcy from a reorganization to a liquidation.

Sandy Hook families react to Alex Jones' nearly $1 billion damages verdict 05:52

The families in the Connecticut lawsuit, including relatives of eight dead children and adults, have asked that Free Speech Systems' separate bankruptcy case also be converted to a liquidation. But the parents in the Texas suit — whose child, 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, died — want the company's case dismissed.

"You can forgive someone, but that doesn't mean that you forget," Scarlett Lewis, Jesse's mother, told CBS News before the judge's ruling. "They need to be held accountable so they don't do it to someone else." 

Lawyers for the company filed documents indicating it supported liquidation, but attorneys for Jones' personal bankruptcy case filed a motion Wednesday saying he does not support that plan and wants the judge to dismiss the company's case.

With the Free Speech Systems' case is dismissed, the company could return to the same position it was in after the $1.5 billion was awarded in the lawsuits. Efforts to collect the damages would go back to the state courts in Texas and Connecticut. That could give Infowars an extended lifeline as collection efforts played out.

Although he has since acknowledged that the Sandy Hook shooting happened, Jones has been saying on his recent shows that Democrats and the "deep state" are conspiring to shut down his companies and take away his free speech rights because of his views. He also has said the Sandy Hook families are being used as pawns in the conspiracy. The families' lawyers say that is nonsense.

According to the most recent financial statements filed in the bankruptcy court, Jones personally has about $9 million in assets, including his $2.6 million Austin-area home and other real estate. He listed his living expenses at about $69,000 for April alone, including about $16,500 for expenses on his home.

Free Speech Systems, which employs 44 people, made nearly $3.2 million in April, including from selling the dietary supplements, clothing and other items that Jones promotes on his show, while listing $1.9 million in expenses.

The families have a pending lawsuit in Texas accusing Jones of illegally diverting and hiding millions of dollars. Jones has denied the allegations.

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