Sandy Hook

Bankruptcy trustee discloses plan to shut down Alex Jones' Infowars and liquidate assets

In an “emergency” motion, trustee Christopher Murray indicated publicly for the first time that he intends to “conduct an orderly wind-down” of the operations of Infowars’ parent company and “liquidate its inventory.”

Alex Jones Speaks To The Media Outside The Sandy Hook Trial In Waterbury, Connecticut

A U.S. bankruptcy court trustee is planning to shut down conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars media platform and liquidate its assets to help pay the $1.5 billion in lawsuit judgments Jones owes for repeatedly calling the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a hoax.

In an “emergency” motion filed Sunday in Houston, trustee Christopher Murray indicated publicly for the first time that he intends to “conduct an orderly wind-down” of the operations of Infowars’ parent company and “liquidate its inventory.” Murray, who was appointed by a federal judge to oversee the assets in Jones’ personal bankruptcy case, did not give a timetable for the liquidation.

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Jones has been saying on his web and radio shows that he expects Infowars to operate for a few more months before it is shut down because of the bankruptcy. But he has vowed to continue his bombastic broadcasts in some other fashion, possibly on social media. He also had talked about someone else buying the company and allowing him to continue his shows as an employee.

Murray also asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez to put an immediate hold on the Sandy Hook families’ efforts to collect the massive amount Jones owes them. Murray said those efforts would interfere with his plans to close the parent company, Free Speech Systems in Austin, Texas, and sell off its assets — with much of the proceeds going to the families.

On Friday, lawyers for the parents of one of the 20 children killed in the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, asked a state judge in Texas to order Free Speech Systems, or FSS, to turn over to the families certain assets, including money in bank accounts, and garnish its accounts. Judge Maya Guerra Gamble approved the request, court records show, prompting Murray’s emergency motion.

The parents, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was killed in the shooting, won a $50 million verdict in Texas over Jones’ lies about the shooting being a hoax staged by crisis actors with the goal of increasing gun control. In a separate Connecticut lawsuit, Jones was ordered to pay other Sandy Hook families more than $1.4 billion for defamation and emotional distress.

Referring to the families’ collection efforts, Murray said in the Sunday court filing that “The specter of a pell-mell seizure of FSS’s assets, including its cash, threatens to throw the business into chaos, potentially stopping it in its tracks, to the detriment” of his duties in Jones’ personal bankruptcy case.

“The Trustee seeks this Court’s intervention to prevent a value-destructive money grab and allow an orderly process to take its course,” Murray said.

Murray also asked the judge to clarify his authority over Jones’ bank accounts. As part of Jones’ personal bankruptcy case, his ownership rights of FSS were turned over to Murray. Jones has been continuing his daily broadcasts in the meantime.

It was not immediately clear when the bankruptcy judge would address Murray’s motion.

Bankruptcy lawyers for Jones, Heslin and Lewis did not immediately return messages seeking comment Monday.

Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the Sandy Hook families in the Connecticut lawsuit, said they supported the trustee’s new motion. He also said the families were disappointed with the motion filed Friday in the Texas court by Heslin and Lewis, which he said would “undercut” an equitable distribution of Jones' assets to all the families.

“This is precisely the unfortunate situation that the Connecticut (lawsuit) families hoped to avoid,” Mattei said.

The families in both lawsuits, who have not received anything from Jones yet, appear likely to get only a fraction of what Jones owes them.

Jones has about $9 million in personal assets, according to the most recent financial filings in court. Free Speech Systems has about $6 million in cash on hand and about $1.2 million worth of inventory, according to recent court testimony.

On June 14, Lopez, the bankruptcy judge, approved converting Jones’ personal bankruptcy case from a reorganization to a liquidation, which Jones requested. Lopez also dismissed the reorganization bankruptcy case of FSS, after lawyers for Jones and the Sandy Hook families could not agree on a final bankruptcy plan.

The bankruptcy cases had put an automatic hold on the families’ efforts to collect any of the $1.5 billion, under federal law. The dismissal of the FSS bankruptcy meant the families would have to shift those efforts from the bankruptcy court to the state courts in Texas and Connecticut where they won the legal judgments.

Jones and Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection in 2022, the same year that relatives of many victims of the school shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators won their lawsuits.

The relatives said they were traumatized by Jones’ hoax conspiracies and his followers’ actions. They testified about being harassed and threatened by Jones’ believers, some of whom confronted the grieving families in person saying the shooting never happened and their children never existed. One parent said someone threatened to dig up his dead son’s grave.

Jones is appealing the judgments in the state courts. He has said that he now believes the shooting did happen, but free speech rights allowed him to say it didn't.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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