Alex Jones’ Bankruptcy Gambit Fails to Stop Connecticut Trial
How much will the conspiracist owe families?
Local man Alex Jones is likely feeling a sense of déjà vu this week, after he again tried to use a bankruptcy filing to disrupt proceedings in the defamation suits brought against him by Sandy Hook parents, after the InfoWars conspiracist spent years calling the 2012 Connecticut elementary school massacre a hoax and a false flag attack by anti-gun forces. The gambit didn't work two weeks ago, during the first of three trials (two in Texas, one in Connecticut) to assess damages for Jones' lies – he's already been found liable by default, after refusing to comply with discovery orders to turn over his personal, professional, and financial records. So far, the price tag for Jones' bullshit campaign is just shy of $50 million, the amount awarded to Neal Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis died at Sandy Hook along with 19 other children and six adults. (Jones' attorneys say they plan an appeal to lower the award amount, which is subject to caps under Texas law.)
Free Speech Systems LLC, the holding company for InfoWars and other Jones assets, filed for bankruptcy in federal court on July 29, midway through the Lewis trial and too late to put a stop to those proceedings, as would otherwise be required under federal law. Last week, Jones' lawyers succeeded in halting jury selection in the Connecticut case, in which FSS is a named defendant, by petitioning to have that trial consolidated with its federal bankruptcy case, but this Monday, Aug. 15, a federal judge ruled that the plaintiffs could continue to seek damages from Jones individually in state court, and so the trial is back on. "We're grateful the bankruptcy court saw through Alex Jones's brazen effort to block a jury from being empaneled and holding him accountable," plaintiffs' attorney Chris Mattei said in a statement.
As one might expect from Alex Jones, FSS's trip through Chapter 11 reorganization is already messy and probably crooked. Last week, Jones' lawyers told the bankruptcy court in Houston that the budget provided for FSS's normal course of business – built on an assumption of $595,000 in weekly revenue – was way too low to accommodate a massive surge in product sales (as much as $450,000 a day), mostly from the dietary supplements Jones hawks incessantly whenever he finds a camera. The team's filing said this spike was due to a website redesign and "other factors," not mentioning Jones' own rants demanding that his true believers buy his shit to support him as he wages culture war.
To avoid a crisis, the company said, it needed more flexibility (which it was granted) to ship products and pay its fulfillment partner Blue Ascension. However, the Connecticut plaintiffs claim that Blue Ascension is a fake company "spun off" from FSS (its CEO testified that he's been Jones' "fitness and wellness manager" for a while) to be a secured creditor at the head of the line, well ahead of the Sandy Hook plaintiffs. Similarly, PQPR Holdings LLC, which technically procures the supplements that are sold via FSS and InfoWars, is on paper owed $55 million by FSS. It's owned, through shell companies, by Jones and his parents.