New Alex Jones trial expected to probe the finances of his empire

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A new Alex Jones trial is expected to probe the finances of his misinformation empire

The next question facing Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist facing lawsuits from the families of Sandy Hook victims: How much is Alex Jones really worth?

Jones and his media operation, Infowars, for years falsely claimed the Sandy Hook shooting was staged, and the victims and their families were actors. In a recent Texas case, a jury awarded nearly $50 million in damages to parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim. Now, a Connecticut jury will decide the amount of damages to award several other parents of children who were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.

The previous trial in Texas already exposed new details about Jones’ empire, including what the families call a scheme to hide his wealth. An expert witness in that trial testified that Jones’ empire was likely worth as much as $270 million, but he began transferring funds out of his businesses and eventually declared bankruptcy after the families filed defamation suits against him.

Observers told Grid there is a good chance the Connecticut case will result in steeper damages for the plaintiffs than the Texas jury awarded in August.

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While Connecticut has limits on punitive damages, experts say the state is generally more plaintiff-friendly, and the Connecticut case features over a dozen plaintiffs claiming harm from the Infowars campaign, compared with the two Texas plaintiffs, possibly justifying a higher award.

Jones claims he and Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, can’t afford to pay the awards. The family’s attorneys and a judicially appointed trustee have cast doubt on that.

What to expect

Next week’s trial is slated to start Tuesday and consolidates three suits against Jones and his companies. The trial will determine how much Free Speech Systems owes nine Sandy Hook families, the daughter of the school’s principal and a first responder from the shooting.

It’s likely to illuminate the inner workings of Free Speech Systems, along with a web of shell companies controlled by Jones and his family members.

A Connecticut judge rendered a default judgment against Jones in November 2021 in part because Jones’ lawyers were not complying with discovery requests. This means that next week’s trial will focus solely on what damages should be awarded.

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For years, Jones used his radio and internet broadcasts to push a conspiracy theory that the 2012 mass shooting was a government-orchestrated “false flag” operation intended as a pretext to confiscate Americans’ guns. “Don’t ever think the globalists who hijacked this country wouldn’t stage something like this,” Jones said on his show the day of the shooting. “They kill little kids all day, every day.”

Jones’ lies led to years of harassment and threats against the parents of the school-aged victims. One family was forced to move nearly 10 times since the shooting.

Jones, who has since admitted the Sandy Hook shooting was real, raked in cash from his operations throughout the period. While his shows generated revenue, court filings indicate much of his income flowed from a profitable supplement and doomsday preparation business he frequently advertises on his shows. It’s not uncommon for Jones to follow a segment on likely societal collapse or nuclear war with an ad for buckets of shelf-stable food or iodine pills to prevent radiation sickness. At one point in 2018, Infowars was bringing in over $800,000 a day.

“Doomsday prepping” for default judgments

The Sandy Hook parents allege that as judges began ruling against Jones and his companies, he devised a plan to shield his assets by shifting millions out of his companies’ coffers and falsely claiming several companies, including Free Speech Systems, had gone bankrupt.

“During the Defamation Cases, the Jones Debtors doomsday prepped for these eventual judgments by diverting assets,” the plaintiffs claimed in one filing. Lawyers for Jones have disputed that characterization. None responded to Grid’s requests for comment.

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Roughly $70 million moved from Free Speech Systems to Jones’ own accounts, according to forensic economist Bernard Pettingill Jr., an expert witness called to the stand in the Texas trial on behalf of the plaintiffs. Millions more were transferred to separate corporations with names like PQPR Holdings Limited controlled by Jones and his parents, Pettingill testified last month.

In a court filing, PQPR’s attorneys argue this conclusion is false, the result of “misunderstanding the difference between a balance sheet and an income statement.”

Separately, Free Speech Systems reported a massive debt to PQPR in bankruptcy filings, which Jones’ attorneys claimed was for supplements they allege PQPR had provided over the years and had never been paid for. The debt was reported just three weeks after the Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed the sanctions against Jones in that case, resulting in a default judgment, timing that the Sandy Hook lawyers say is suspicious. Pettingill called the debt a ruse.

“On the books Alex Jones is carrying this gigantic, $53 million note, when in reality he’s using that note as a clawback to pay himself back,” Pettingill told the Texas jury. Pettingill was limited in what documents he was able to gather because Jones’ attorneys did not comply with discovery, he testified. This testimony echoed that of another attorney in the bankruptcy case.

Jones and his company claimed after the first jury award that Infowars was running on empty. “We are so broke … I’m worried about our bankruptcy to emergency stabilize Infowars, and we have a plan. But to do that we need support,” Jones told his viewers the day before the jury awarded the parents another $45.2 million.


Outside experts Grid contacted tended to agree with Pettingill. “The circumstances suggest this claim was dreamed up relatively recently,” said Minor Myers, a professor of law at University of Connecticut School of Law, “as a way to divert more value of the estate into friendly hands.”

The Sandy Hook families are arguing in multiple lawsuits that Jones is scrambling to shield the assets of Free Speech Systems from damage awards by transferring money out of the company to family members. Grid reviewed financial documents made public in the case and found recent payments of $240,000 to a Nevada LLC controlled by Jones’ sister, Marleigh Jones Rivera. The payments came after the default judgments were entered. Jones’ sister was once an employee of Infowars, but it’s not clear if she remains on the payroll. Rivera did not respond to requests for comment.

Why it matters

The impact of these cases on Jones’ operations appears negligible, at least for the moment. He continues to produce shows promoting conspiracy theories, although he has acknowledged Sandy Hook was not a false flag operation.

“Infowars hasn’t changed that much” in recent weeks, even as the defamation suits have moved ahead, according to Michael Edison Hayden, senior investigative reporter at Southern Poverty Law Center. Hayden has been following Jones and Infowars closely and investigating the inner workings of the business. “It’s still doing many of the things it once did.”

After the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Jones “went about halfway toward suggesting it was staged, or that it was part of some ‘op,’” Hayden recounted. “[Jones] is trying to dip his feet into the same sort of pool that has awarded him so much money.”

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But the importance of the Jones defamation trials goes beyond Sandy Hook and Jones himself, said Amanda J. Crawford, assistant professor at University of Connecticut.

“[These cases] are the first really big, high-profile test of how we can hold people accountable for conspiracy theories in this misinformation moment that we’re in,” said Crawford, who’s writing a book on the connections between mass shootings and misinformation. “The misinformation that followed Sandy Hook was the beginning of a new era of conspiracy theories. The year of the shooting was the first year that over half of American adults were on social media.”

Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.

  • Jason Paladino
    Jason Paladino

    Investigative Reporter

    Jason Paladino is an investigative reporter for Grid where he focuses on national security policy, U.S. foreign involvement and corruption.

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