Alex Jones Faces 2nd Sandy Hook Trial: Live News Update

Tiffany Hsu

Credit…Pool photo by Briana Sanchez

Alex Jones’s return to court on Tuesday in Connecticut, a month after he was ordered to pay nearly $50 million in damages in a related defamation case in Texas, will most likely involve more examination of his misinformation-fueled empire and its tangled finances.

Financial records suggest that Mr. Jones did well when he discussed Sandy Hook in the years after the attack, sometimes earning tens of thousands of dollars through the Infowars store on the days when he aired segments about the massacre. Lately, though, he has claimed that the lawsuits left him on the brink of ruin — assertions disputed by lawyers for the families and financial experts, who say that he has exploited the bankruptcy system and funneled funds between his holdings in an attempt to shield his fortune from the court.

Sales through Infowars, Mr. Jones’s media brand, increased 50 percent from the start of the first damages trial in late July to nearly $1 million a week in late August, his representatives have said. Along with associates such as Genesis Communications Network, a radio network that helped syndicate Mr. Jones for decades, he has pleaded with fans for donations, accusing the legal proceedings of bleeding him dry. Millions of dollars have poured in, including $8 million in cryptocurrency, the families’ lawyers said.

But peddling conspiracy theories has long been lucrative for Mr. Jones, the families’ lawyers said. They said during the trial in Texas that they found one text message showing that he made nearly $4 million in a single week years after being booted off major social media platforms in 2018.

Early in Mr. Jones’s career, his work with Genesis involved broadcasting dire claims about the state of the economy and then turning to Genesis’ founder, a bullion dealer, who would deliver extensive pitches for metals like gold. Their moneymaking blueprint, which involved niche advertising, fund-raising drives and the promotion of media subscriptions, was later reproduced by other conspiracy theorists.

More recently, there were days when Infowars was pulling in more than $800,000, according to records presented by lawyers in the recent Texas case, who represented the parents of a 6-year-old who died at Sandy Hook. They called a forensic economist who estimated that Mr. Jones and Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, were worth $135 million to $270 million together, and that Infowars earned more than $64 million last year.

The economist, Bernard Pettingill Jr., said that he managed to trace nine private companies associated with Mr. Jones, but that his portrait of Mr. Jones’s financial existence was spotty because the conspiracy theorist’s legal team had resisted sharing many records.

Mr. Jones’s lawyer said there was no evidence of how much his client is currently worth. But in late July, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for Free Speech Systems — a move that the families’ lawyers denounced as a diversion tactic. The filing noted $14.3 million in assets as of May 31, including $1.9 million in net income and about $11 million in product sales.

Free Speech Systems also claimed $79.2 million in debts, with 68 percent owed to PQPR Holdings, an entity created by Mr. Jones, his father and Eric Taube, a Texas lawyer.

Last year, after he was ruled liable by default in all four Sandy Hook cases, Mr. Jones began funneling $11,000 a day to PQPR, Mr. Pettingill testified. In federal bankruptcy court late last month, lawyers for the families said that he had transferred up to $62 million from his businesses since 2018, when they first filed suit.

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