Far right conspiracist and Infowars founder Alex Jones made the lives of the families of the child victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a “living hell” for a decade — and now, he is reportedly hiding and giving away his wealth to avoid an over $1 billion legal bill that he has been ordered to pay the families.
According to a new report by The New York Times, as Jones has faced a defamation case from Sandy Hook families over the past year, he has been hemorrhaging money and transferring it to places where it could be untouchable by creditors in order to dodge the payout.
He has transferred millions of dollars of cash and assets to family and friends, reporters found through financial documents and court records, including giving money to a company founded by a former personal trainer and transferring a $3 million home to his wife. At the same time, he has spent money on luxuries for himself, spending $80,000 on a private jet, hiring bodyguards, and renting out a villa while testifying last year in Connecticut, where the defamation trial took place.
“If anybody thinks they’re shutting me down, they’re mistaken,” Jones said on a recent episode of his podcast, The Times noted.
Last fall, a court ordered Jones to pay out over $1.4 billion to families of eight Sandy Hook victims after he spent years gaining an audience online by propagating lies that the shooting — the most deadly shooting at a grade school in modern U.S. history — was faked, and that the families mourning the deaths of their children were actors hired by the government to implement gun control laws that never actually materialized.
His campaign represented one of the most heinous modern conspiracy theories ever conceived by the right. Followers of Jones have spent years directing depraved harassment at the families, hurling rape and death threats online and in person, the families have testified, compounding the trauma of families already forced to constantly relive and prove the deaths of their children.
One plaintiff, whose six-year-old daughter was slain in the shooting, described having people stalk the grave of her husband, who died by suicide in 2019, searching for evidence of his death; others have said that they have had to move repeatedly after being tracked down and doxxed by conspiracy theorists time and time again.
Jones has filed for bankruptcy over the payout after having stonewalled courts on his financial records for years. It’s unclear if he will be able to successfully hide the money, but, as The Times noted, the families are facing the reality that “their ability to get anything remotely close to the jury awards is inextricably tied to Mr. Jones’s capacity to make a living as the purveyor of lies — including that the shooting was a hoax, the parents were actors and the children did not really die — that ignited years of torment and threats against them.”
Despite the fact that evidence and testimony have demonstrated that Jones is quite wealthy, Jones recently offered to pay the families and creditors a total of $43 million over five years, a sum that lawyers for the families dismissed as laughable. Still, Jones — with vast audience and funding, and the ability to exploit Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws — holds the advantage over the families, and was taking moves that appeared to be aimed at hiding his money in preparation for the lawsuits as early as 2018.