Infowars founder Alex Jones has filed for personal bankruptcy in the wake of a billion-dollar defamation penalty. As reported by Reuters this morning, Jones filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Houston court this morning. Jones’ company, Free Speech Systems, filed its own bankruptcy petition in July.
Today’s bankruptcy filing indicates that Jones has 50 to 99 creditors. That presumably includes over a dozen people who lost children at the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, which Jones claimed for years had been faked — leading to a series of defamation suits that Jones lost by default. He estimated his assets to be worth between $1 million and $10 million and his liabilities between $1 billion and $10 billion, reflecting the high damages in those cases.
Earlier this year, a Texas court ordered Jones to pay $45 million to two parents of a child killed at Sandy Hook, and a Connecticut court ordered him to pay 15 more plaintiffs around $964 million in damages, followed by an additional $473 million in punitive damages. Late last month, Jones lost a bid to reduce the Texas damages under a law capping defamation fines, leaving him on the hook for the full amount.
Earlier court filings revealed estimates that Jones made around $50 million annually from Infowars and estimated the worth of Free Speech Systems at $130 million or more. Jones has moved tens of millions of dollars over the course of his legal battle, something his legal opponents have called an attempt to hide money from the courts.
The high damages reflect years of persistent and vicious harassment that Sandy Hook families suffered following Jones’ false claims that they’d faked their children’s death. They likely also result partly from Jones’ erratic, uncooperative, and unrepentant behavior during both the Texas and Connecticut trials. While Jones admitted during the trial that he now believes the Sandy Hook shooting happened, he claimed in testimony to be “done saying I’m sorry” and held an unapproved impromptu press conference on the courthouse steps. Now, he’s admitting at least that he may be in personal financial trouble.