Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his company Free Speech Systems are worth up to $270 million, an economist testified Friday to a jury trying to determine if Jones should have to pay punitive damages to the family of a 6-year-old killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
The same jury ordered Jones to pay Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis $4.1 million in compensation for defamation. Punitive damages are determined as a separate issue, and the parents want to punish Jones for a decade of pushing false hoax claims that they say led to a decade of trauma and abuse from the Infowars host’s followers.
Bernard Pettingill, who was hired by the plaintiffs to study Jones’ net worth, said records show that Jones withdrew $62 million for himself in 2021, when default judgments were issued in lawsuits against him.
“That number represents, in my opinion, a value of a net worth,” Pettingill said. “He’s got money put in a bank account somewhere.”
The money that flows into Jones’ companies eventually funnels its way to him, said Pettingill, who added that he has testified in approximately 1,500 cases during his career.
“He is a very successful man,” Pettingill said, calling Jones a “maverick” and “revolutionary” for finding ways to monetize his online messaging.
While the $4.1 million award Thursday was less than the $150 million the parents sought, it marked the first time Jones has been held financially liable for repeatedly claiming that the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history was a hoax perpetrated to try to bring about tighter gun restrictions.
Mark Bankston, an attorney for parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was among 20 children and six educators killed in the school attack in Newtown, Connecticut, insisted that the $4.1 million compensation award wasn’t a disappointment and warned that they would be trying to punish Jones in the next phase.
“We aren’t done yet,” Bankston said Thursday. “After tomorrow, he’s going to owe a whole lot more.”
Jones still faces two other defamation lawsuits from Sandy Hook families in Texas and Connecticut that put his personal wealth and media empire in jeopardy.
Jones — who was in the courtroom briefly Friday but left before Pettingill’s testimony — told jurors earlier this week that any award over $2 million would “sink us.” And a week ago, his company Free Speech Systems, which is Infowars’ parent company, filed for federal bankruptcy protection.
Lawyers for the family suing Jones contend that Jones has tried to hide evidence of his true wealth and have sued him claiming he’s tried to hide money in various shell companies.
During his testimony, Jones was confronted with a memo from one of his business managers outlining a single day’s gross revenue of $800,000 from selling vitamin supplements and other products through his website, which would approach nearly $300 million in a year. Jones called it a record sales day.
Jones, who has portrayed the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights, conceded during the trial that
Source:: Headlines News4jax
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