Alex Jones transferred millions from media company to avoid damage to Sandy Hook, report says
Alex Jones transferred millions of dollars from his media company to companies controlled by him or his family members, possibly taking the funds out of the realm of court-ordered damages, records reveal according to The Washington Post.
The InfoWars founder and far-right conspiracy theorist had been sued by parents of children murdered in the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Mr Jones has repeatedly claimed the shooting was a hoax and some of his viewers harassed and threatened families who had lost children.
In the summer of 2020, two of the lawsuits against him and his company did not go in his favor.
It was then that he began to withdraw millions of dollars from his business Free Speech Systems as the likelihood of him being liable for damages increased, The post office reported.
From August 2020 to November the following year, Free Speech Systems issued promissory notes in the amount of $55 million to pay off what it claimed were previous debts to PQPR Holdings, a company that Mr. Jones owns alongside his parents.
The company, which is operated by Mr Jones’ father, a dentist, had purchased tens of millions of supplements which were then sold on the show Mr Jones aired.
A lawyer representing Free Speech Systems said in court that debts had increased unnoticed due to poor accounting.
Mr Jones began paying his personal trainer $100,000 a week this year to help ship the supplements and other goods, a company lawyer told the court.
Records reveal that a business operated by Mr Jones’ sister was paid $240,000 despite being registered as a ‘supplier or vendor’.
Mr. Jones was ordered to pay the Sandy Hook families nearly $1.5 billion in damages. The InfoWars host said on his show that he plans to appeal the verdict.
The transactions prompted Free Speech Systems to file for bankruptcy in July, according to legal filings by Mr. Jones.
Court documents say an accountant employed by Mr Jones calculated the company owed $79 million at the end of May with $14 million in assets.
This means the Sandy Hook families could be in competition with other creditors, such as companies linked to Mr Jones, to recover what is owed to them.
Which creditors will be paid and in what amounts will be decided by the bankruptcy court, depending on The post office.The court is also considering whether the transactions with PQPR and others are valid.
PQPR’s lawyers argued that the company should be paid before any unsecured creditors, like the Sandy Hook families.
Lawyers representing the Sandy Hook families have argued that PQPR is “not actually an independent business” and that Mr Jones made fraudulent transactions to protect his money.
Lawyers argued in the bankruptcy court that Mr Jones only started withdrawing money from Free Speech Systems after his legal problems worsened.
Avi Moshenberg, attorney for Sandy Hook, said The post officethat “in the middle of this trial, they began documenting debts that had no prior proof of existence”.
The role of the Justice Department trustee is to oversee the integrity of the process.
“We, the US trustee, have concerns about the underlying transaction,” attorney Ha Nguyen told the court.
Mr. Jones and his father said in court that the PQPR was started in 2013 for liability protection purposes when Mr. Jones entered the supplement industry.
The accountant working for Mr Jones said in bankruptcy court that PQPR was a genuine business that worked with Mr Jones’ main business to “set up supply chains, obtain required government certifications, negotiate with suppliers, purchase and pay for product and overhead”.
Free Speech Systems lawyer Raymond Battaglia argued that InfoWars has grown rapidly as a brand and that while millions of dollars have been earned, “proper management and accounting controls” don’t help. were ever instituted, causing PQPR to miss the accumulated debt.
“It’s kind of like the garage band that became the boy band overnight, and his girlfriend ran the books, and the head roadie was the business manager,” the attorney said in August.
Bankruptcy experts said the structure of the companies is not unusual and that just because the companies have no staff does not mean they are not legitimate businesses.
Jay Westbrook, professor of bankruptcy law at the University of Texas, said The post office that “ultimately the question is whether these are valid payments”.
An expert employed by the Sandy Hook families told testimony in August that Mr Jones’ estimated wealth was between $135 million and $270 million.
“I don’t have all that money they made up,” Mr Jones later said, dismissing those figures.
According to court testimony, the supplement side of the business often receives between 2,000 and 3,000 orders a day, generating the vast majority of Free Speech Systems’ $65 million in revenue last year.
Mr. Moshenberg said his clients might be willing to agree to receive less money than Mr. Jones was ordered to pay if he agrees to pull out of the broadcast.
“If he wants to agree to some kind of terms that hold him accountable for everything he has done, we will be open to listening,” Moshenberg said. The Washington Post. “Whether it’s stepping away from public life or paying the Sandy Hook families in full, the Sandy Hook families won’t stop until Jones is held accountable.”
Mr. Jones rejected this idea.
On one of her shows in October, she said “they want us off the air, that’s their goal.”
“You have my commitment. I’m not backing down,’ he told his viewers.