Alex Jones’ attempts to protect his assets from legal threats led to a warning from a Texas judge this week and new revelations about the finances of his misinformation operation.
On Thursday, an Austin jury ruled that Mr. Jones must pay more than $4 million in damages in the first of several defamation cases brought by parents of Sandy Hook victims. Days earlier, the conspiracy theorist had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in Houston for Free Speech Systems, the parent company of his media network Infowars.
Lawyers for the victims’ families, who say they were harassed for years after Mr Jones misrepresented them as actors involved in a hoax, said last week’s bankruptcy filing was a diversionary tactic to delay other claims proceedings.
A lawyer for Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was killed in the 2012 attack, produced records Wednesday showing Infowars paid more than $800,000 per day (Mr Jones said the amount had been held up). from a particularly lucrative period during the Conservative Political Action Conference).
Bernard Pettingill, Jr., a forensic economist and former economics professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, testified Friday that Mr. Jones “is a very successful man” and that his combined net worth and that of Free Speech Systems are likely at $135 million had fallen and $270 million.
Mr Jones’ lawyer, J. Federico Andino Reynal, said in his closing statement on Friday: “We have not received any evidence of what Alex Jones actually has today, we have not received anything of what FSS has today, how much money they have have what assets they have to pay.”
But Mr. Pettingill’s testimony on Friday, as well as Free Speech Systems’ bankruptcy filing, produced several important observations about Mr. Jones’ finances, including:
Since then, there has been a “nice, healthy increase” in the company’s revenue, including sales of survival items and dietary supplements, and it has brought in more than $64 million last year, he said.
At one point, Mr. Jones was paying himself an average of $6 million a year, Mr. Pettingill said.
In its bankruptcy filing, Free Speech Systems reported $14.3 million in assets as of May 31, with $1.9 million in net income and nearly $11 million in product sales.
Free Speech Systems also had nearly $79.2 million in debt, 68 percent of it in the form of a debenture, to PQPR Holdings, an entity Mr. Jones appoints as manager.
Last year, after Mr. Jones was found defaulting in the Sandy Hook cases, he began pouring $11,000 a day into PQPR, Mr. Pettingill said.
The “gigantic” loan from PQPR, a shell company with no employees, is actually Mr Jones, who “uses this note as a reclamation to pay off,” Mr Pettingill said, although Mr Jones’ attorney insisted that PQPR use a real loan company is . Another note will mature when Mr. Jones is 74 years old (he is now 48).
Mr Pettingill said he managed to track down nine private companies linked to Jones but had to cobble together information in part because Mr Jones’ team resisted investigative orders.
“We can’t say exactly what he does for a living, how he actually makes his money,” he said.
“His org chart is an inverted T, meaning everything flows to Alex Jones. Alex Jones made all the important decisions and I think Alex Jones knows where the money is,” Mr Pettingill said. “He can say he’s broke, he has no money, but we know that’s not true.”
Austin judge Maya Guerra Gamble fined Mr Jones in court on Wednesday for alleging under oath that he was bankrupt while the matter was still being decided.
“You can’t tell this jury you’re bankrupt – that’s not true either,” Ms Gamble told Mr Jones after admonishing him for lying about meeting investigative requirements.
Mr. Jones and partners like the Genesis Communications Network, which helped syndicate his show for decades, have claimed they are in the finances and used the defamation cases as an opportunity to solicit fans for donations.
Mr Jones has complained that his earnings have plummeted after he was banned from major social media platforms in 2018. Mark Bankston, an attorney for the families, pushed back in court on Wednesday: “Well, after your deplatforming, your numbers just keep getting better. ” he said.
Mr Pettingill agreed on Friday, saying Mr Jones’ “rabid” fans have helped keep his earnings steady even after he has been removed from the platforms, partly through fundraisers and merchandise sales during the Covid-19 pandemic. Wesley Ball, a family attorney, later noted in his closing statement that his legal team had come across a text message showing Mr. Jones “made nearly $4 million in one week, years after he was kicked off his platforms.” “.