A Connecticut judge Thursday ordered Infowars founder Alex Jones and his company to pay an additional $473 million in punitive damages to the families of eight victims of the Sandy Hook shooting.
The families and an FBI agent who responded to the shooting sued Jones for spreading misinformation about the 2012 attack, in which 20 children and six teachers were killed in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Judge Barbara Bellis’s order comes nearly a month after Jones was ordered by a jury to pay $965 million in compensation to the families in the culmination of the multiyear legal battle. The verdict was unanimous.
Jones, who has said he will appeal the verdict, was also ordered by the judge to not transfer his assets outside of the United States until further notice from the court. This is the first time a court has ordered Jones to freeze his assets.
“This is the first step in making sure that Jones personally will pay every penny he has to the families he spent years tormenting,” Chris Mattei, who represents the families in the case against Jones, said in a statement shared with the Washington Post.
Jones reacted to the news live Thursday while recording his “Infowars” podcast, calling the penalty “preposterous” and saying he doesn’t have the funds to pay it. “If I weigh 260 pounds, they ask for a trillion pounds – I don’t have that much flesh,” he said.
Between 2016 and 2018, Infowars amassed $165 million, according to testimony from an earlier defamation trial.
But the status of that money and exactly how much Jones has amassed since then is not clear.
Jones’s attorney, Norm Pattis, told Jones on the podcast that the plaintiffs’ aim is to “put you on a financial leash with an aim of silencing you.”
“I think the goal is to try to pile you up with a judgment debt, the likes of which no one else has ever seen, no private person or non-corporation,” Pattis said, adding that he believes “this unprecedented verdict remains vulnerable.”
On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza drove to Sandy Hook Elementary, where his mother, Nancy Lanza, taught, after fatally shooting her inside the home they shared. The 20-year-old gunman opened fire inside multiple classrooms before killing himself. Police did not fire any shots.
Hours after the shooting, Jones told his audience that it was staged as an excuse for confiscating guns. He also suggested the parents of the victims were actors. Years later, he repeatedly referred to the massacre as a hoax.
The Infowars host has a history of spreading baseless conspiracy theories. He has falsely claimed that elements of the U.S. government were responsible for bombing the Oklahoma City federal building and the 9/11, terrorist attacks.
In their suit, the families of the victims argued Jones’s false claims caused them years of additional suffering. During the trial, the families testified that conspiracy theorists who accused them of staging their children’s deaths repeatedly harassed and threatened them.
They shared that they did not feel safe when home and felt they had to keep their guard up when in public. It got so bad, some of them testified, that they had no option but to move away from Newtown.
Pattis slammed Thursday’s order in a statement to The Post.
“This latest ruling is farce. It makes our work on appeal that much easier,” Pattis said.
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