Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sandy Hook families offer Alex Jones a deal to settle $1.5 billion debt

Alex Jones, radio host and creator of the website Infowars, center, speaks into a megaphone on April 18, 2020, as demonstrators gather during a “You Can’t Close America” rally outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin.   (Alex Scott/Bloomberg)
By Timothy Bella Washington Post

The families of victims of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School have offered Infowars founder Alex Jones a deal to settle the $1.5 billion debt for only about 6 percent of what he owes them for saying the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn., was a hoax, according to a new court filing.

The settlement offer, which was filed in Jones’s personal bankruptcy case in Houston last week, calls for the right-wing conspiracy theorist to pay the families at least $85 million over 10 years. Lawyers for the Sandy Hook families wrote that Jones could either liquidate his estate and give the proceeds to creditors, or pay the families at least $8.5 million a year for 10 years - and 50 percent of any income over $9 million a year - to settle his debt.

While lawyers described the proposal as a viable way to help resolve the bankruptcy cases that Jones faces for himself and his company, Free Speech Systems, the attorneys for the victims slammed the Infowars founder for failing to curb his spending, change his “extravagant lifestyle,” or failing to produce financial documents in court. Jones’s personal spending between May and July of this year was $242,219, including more than $93,000 in July alone, according to previous court filings.

“Jones has failed in every way to serve as the fiduciary mandated by the Bankruptcy Code in exchange for the breathing spell he has enjoyed for almost a year,” lawyers for the Sandy Hook families wrote in the settlement offer filing, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “His time is up.”

Vickie L. Driver, Jones’s personal bankruptcy attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning. In a Monday court hearing, Driver suggested that even though the settlement offer was only pennies on the dollar compared to the $1.5 billion he owes, the figure was still too high and that it was unrealistic that he would be able to pay it.

“There are no financials that will ever show that Mr. Jones ever made that … in 10 years,” Driver said, according to the Associated Press.

Alinor Sterling, an attorney for the Connecticut families, told The Post in a statement that “Alex Jones needs to be held accountable for his actions.”

“He cannot use the bankruptcy process - or any other legal process - to evade accountability to the families,” Sterling said. “To ensure that the bankruptcy process moves forward and achieves that accountability, the families presented Alex Jones with two options. Pay the families a minimum of $8.5 million for the next 10 years and all his assets and put an end to this case, or liquidate his assets and continue fighting in court for decades to come. Either way, the families will see this through to the end.”

The offer comes more than a year after Sandy Hook families were awarded nearly $1.5 billion in liabilities for Jones’s false theories about the 2012 school shooting. Jones, 49, is appealing the rulings in Connecticut and Texas, arguing that he didn’t get fair trials. The order came after the families testified about years of threats and harassment from Jones’s followers, who accused family members of being “crisis actors” whose children never existed. Twenty children and six adults were killed in the mass shooting.

After Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Infowars, filed for bankruptcy in July 2022, Jones did the same last December, marking $969 million in bankruptcy claims that he owed to 17 people in the Sandy Hook cases as “disputed.” Jones claimed his estimated debts to be between $1 billion and $10 billion, and said last year that his debts were primarily business debts and that he owed an estimated 50 to 99 creditors. At the time, he estimated his assets to be worth between $1 million and $10 million.

Within a year of filing for bankruptcy, Jones reported that he paid more than $1.3 million in debts that he owed to people classified as “insiders,” which include any relatives or business partners. Among those listed is Erika Wulff Jones, whom he married in 2017 and with whom he has a child. Alex Jones reported paying his wife more than $680,800 as part of what’s listed as a “premarital agreement.”

Jones is still broadcasting and continues to tell his Infowars audience that he has money problems, urging them to buy his products to support his cause. Jones recently asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez for permission to sell his personal possessions, such as SUVs, boats and 49 firearms, to Infowars fans to help pay “administrative claims and reduce cost to maintain certain personal property, particularly those stored in various storage facilities.”

Jones has listed about $13 million in total personal assets in the most recent financial statements filed in bankruptcy court. Included in those assets were about $856,000 in various bank accounts. Lawyers for Sandy Hook families have criticized his personal spending, and pointed to it to highlight that he hasn’t taken the legal proceedings seriously. His personal spending in July of this year included $7,900 on housekeeping, $6,338 on meals and entertainment, and $3,388 on groceries, court filings show.

A new bankruptcy plan filed by Free Speech Systems on Nov. 18 said that the Infowars parent company could realistically pay creditors about $4 million a year, which was down from an estimate earlier this year that said the company could pay $7 million to $10 million annually. Free Speech Systems said that it expects to make more than $19 million next year from the dietary supplements and other merchandise that Jones promotes on his shows. The operating expenses, including salaries of Jones and staff, would be about $14.3 million.

Jones had been receiving a salary of $20,000 every two weeks, or $520,000 annually, under the bankruptcy orders, court documents show. Then, this month, a court-appointed restructuring officer increased Jones’s pay to about $57,700 biweekly, or $1.5 million a year, arguing that the right-wing conspiracy theorist has been “grossly” underpaid.

On Monday, Lopez rejected Jones’s salary increase, saying the pay raise didn’t appear to have been made properly under bankruptcy laws, the AP reported. The judge added that a hearing needed to be held to decide whether the raise should be approved.

It’s unclear whether Jones will accept the families’ offer to pay 6 percent of what he owes them in exchange for dropping their claim against him. If he does not accept the offer, then the judge would determine how much Jones would pay the families and other creditors.

Jones’s attorneys did not respond to the settlement offer Monday, but noted that their client would present his own plan to get out of bankruptcy in December, according to the Danbury News-Times.

“Jones believes the time has come to move toward filing a plan, and confirmation thereof,” his attorneys wrote.

Attorneys for the Sandy Hook families said the settlement offer was a solution to end the legal dispute, describing it as “a 10-year, fixed-payment schedule that pays [families] a small fraction of the amount of their claims.” They again argued that Jones had run out of time.

“The time has come for Jones to choose whether he is willing to pay his creditors a reasonable portion of what they are owed or would prefer to remain embroiled in costly and time-consuming litigation for years to come,” the attorneys wrote.