Conspiracy theory entrepreneur Alex Jones filed for personal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, citing more than $1 billion in liabilities.
The filing follows a Connecticut jury’s verdict in October ordering the “Infowars” host to pay $965 million in damages to families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in a defamation case that centered on Jones’ promotion of the false conspiracy theory that the 2012 shooting was a hoax. A judge last month added $473 million in punitive damages to the judgment, bringing it to a total of $1.44 billion.
The bankruptcy filing move is just the latest step in Jones’ efforts to restructure his assets amid his legal troubles. Earlier this year, Jones’ principal corporate entity, Free Speech Systems LLC, also filed for bankruptcy protection. Both filings are widely seen as efforts to prevent collection of funds owed following legal judgments handed down against him.
Jones and his companies may be worth between $130 million and $270 million, according to expert testimony offered in legal proceedings against him this year.
Nevertheless, Jones has asserted that he does not have the funds to pay his creditors. “Ain’t going to be happening, ain’t no money,” Jones said on his livestream on Oct. 12, the day the verdict was announced.
Lawyers for the Sandy Hook families, however, have said they will exhaust all methods to recoup the funds. “We are going to chase Alex Jones to the ends of the earth,” Joshua Koskoff, an attorney for the Sandy Hook plaintiffs, said in October.
Legal experts have said Jones is unlikely to escape from the judgments altogether through the bankruptcy process, which typically brings more scrutiny rather than less to a filer’s finances. However, he also likely lacks the funds to pay the full judgment, and the amount of the payments may be adjusted through a mediation process.
Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code allows for reorganization rather than liquidation of assets. While typically used by companies and partnerships, it can also be used by individuals.
Voluntary bankruptcy petition filings typically involve a set form with boxes to check and lines to fill in, rather than a narrative. Here are the key elements of Jones’ bankruptcy filing on Friday:
Jones’ personal bankruptcy filing follows corporation’s bankruptcy this past summer
Are any bankruptcy cases pending or being filed by a spouse who is not filing this case with you, or by a business partner, or by an affiliate?
Debtor: Free Speech Systems, LLC
Relationship to you affiliate
Free Speech Systems, the corporate entity at the center of Jones’ Infowars business empire, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July. Proceedings in that case are still ongoing.
Court documents show that Jones assets are spread across a sprawling web of corporate entities, some of which owed debt to one another. Some of these entities are wholly or partly owned by Jones’ family members, rather than the “Infowars” host himself. Attorneys for the Sandy Hook families, in a filing earlier this year, asserted that “Jones transferred millions of dollars from his fortune to these insiders — whom he apparently thought were beyond reach.”
Jones owes money to dozens of people
How many creditors do you estimate that you owe?
Jones said in his bankruptcy petition Friday that he owes money to between 50 and 99 creditors.
The filing lists 18 of the largest creditors who have claims against Jones, most of whom are family members of Sandy Hook victims, and one of which is a credit card company. Of the listed creditors, the top 17 are owed between $120 million and $2 million stemming from litigation claims. Jones also said he owes $150,000 in credit card expenses to American Express. The document does not say what expenses were on the credit card.
Jones says his personal assets are not more than $10 million
How much do you estimate your assets to be worth?
✔ $1,000,001-$10 million
In his bankruptcy filing, Jones checked a box that says his personal assets are valued at between $1 million and $10 million.
On his show “Infowars,” Jones has claimed that he has less than $2 million. That is sharply at odds with testimony earlier this year from Bernard Pettingill, a forensic economist and former Florida Institute of Technology professor hired by attorneys for the Sandy Hook families, who said Jones and his companies are likely worth up to $270 million.
Jones says his liabilities are in the billions
How much do you estimate your liabilities to be?
✔ $1,000,000,001-$10 billion
A box indicating Jones has liabilities exceeding $1 billion but less than $10 billion is checked in the bankruptcy petition he filed on Friday.
This is consistent with the judgment totaling $1.44 billion that has been issued in the Connecticut defamation case, which includes $965 million in compensatory damages and $473 in punitive damages.
Jones says he has no personal balance sheet
I, Alexander E. Jones, the Debtor in the above-styled bankruptcy proceeding, state under penalty of perjury and pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 1116(1)(B) that I have no balance sheet, statement of operations, or cash-flow statement.
Debtors in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases are typically required to file a balance sheet, statement of operations, or cash-flow statement, or a statement under penalty of perjury indicating they do not have such documents. Jones on Friday filed a statement indicating he did not have these records detailing the state of his finances.
Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.