Will the Sandy Hook families actually receive any money from Alex Jones?

Families of the Sandy Hook shooting won a significant legal victory over Infowars host Alex Jones on Wednesday, with a jury ordering him to pay $965 million to 15 plaintiffs.

Now the fight begins to force him to pay.

The nearly $1 billion verdict came as a huge relief for the families, who were threatened and harassed for years by Jones’s followers, who believed a lie he created and promoted repeatedly: that the tragedy in Newton, Conn., was a hoax staged by the U.S. government to enact stricter gun control laws.      

A gunman killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook elementary in 2012 in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.      

The hundreds of millions of dollars awarded to the plaintiffs in the Jones trial is a far higher amount than they had expected and is one of the largest ever awarded in a U.S. defamation trial.      

Chris Mattei, an attorney with the law firm Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, who represents the families , told said the verdict “was a powerful statement about the harm caused by Jones.”      

“We had fifteen plaintiffs who have experienced years of fear, stress, anxiety and threat, and they all experienced those in their own individual ways,” Mattei said. “When you look at the jury’s verdict, especially as it’s broken down by person, you see just how carefully and thoughtfully they considered each person’s experience [and] they really wanted to send a message that his conduct has devastating consequences.”      

Jones was ordered to pay around $50 million from another trial in August and he faces a third trial in a Texas court toward the end of the year, filed by the parents of another victim.  

The Connecticut court is not yet finished with Jones, though. In a second phase, the judge will decide how much the Infowars host must pay in punitive damages under unfair trade practices, which is likely to increase the total amount he owes.      

The families are intent on ensuring Jones pays up, although it’s likely it will take years to fulfill that wish. The time it takes depends on where his assets are, whether he has hidden any assets abroad and if he decides to appeal, Mattei explained.       

But his legal team is as intent as the families are in succeeding.

“We’re going to track, we’re going to identify and we’re going to make sure he pays this verdict,” Mattei said.      

Jones made millions off of his talk show and websites. He sold survival gear, nutritional supplements and other items through his website.     

Through his live show and website articles, he also popularized the spread of conspiracy theories that have taken deep root in the U.S. political system. For the families, taking his assets is about sending a message to Jones and others who seek to profit from lies.  

Erica Lafferty, a relative of one of the Sandy Hook victims, told Anderson Cooper on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” show Wednesday night “money is all that Alex Jones cares about.”      

“The only way to even begin to start to explain how he’s made us feel is to hit him in the pocket,” she said. “It’s the only thing that’s going to prevent him from doing this to other families. It’s the only shot that we’ve ever [had] of him stopping the hate and the lies and the conspiracy he’s thrown down on us for the last decade.”      

While Jones has acknowledged he spread a lie, at the Connecticut trial he said he was “done saying I’m sorry” and has continued to blame the media and liberals for his woes rather than accept responsibility.      

During his live show on Wednesday, Jones said he was in bankruptcy and explained to his viewers how to donate to him through a fundraiser.      

“We’re fighting Goliath,” Jones said. “You want to fight, that’s fine. That’s where we are, that’s the whacked-out system of the left.”      

The first step for attorneys may be to look at his company. Bernard Pettingill, an economist who testified at the Infowars host’s first Texas trial, estimated Jones and his company Free Speech Systems are worth $270 million, according to the Associated Press. Pettingill also testified that Jones withdrew $62 million from his company in 2021.     

Free Speech Systems has filed for bankruptcy in a Texas court, but that has not yet been granted.      

It’s unclear what would happen in the event the company is awarded bankruptcy protection, which is likely to complicate matters. But Jones is not in control of Free Speech Systems anymore, with a restructuring officer now handling its affairs, meaning no assets from the company can be diverted.      

Mattei said Koskoff has a team of bankruptcy lawyers who will handle that case. In the meantime, the hunt is on to find where his assets are in a process known as a discovery phase. Once they are located, attorneys file a court claim based on the Connecticut verdict in those states to authorize local authorities to seize the assets. 

Jones owns several properties in and around Austin, Texas, according to realtor.com, including a more than $2 million, 5,467-square-foot mansion. The property deed for the mansion was transferred in February from a trust connected by Jones to his wife.       

He also owns a waterfront property across six acres of land near Austin and two other properties in the area, according to the real estate website.      

Mattei said he will be able to file liens against his properties and other tangible assets once they are located. But that can only go so far, as Jones would be protected by law from the seizure of a home he lives in or the seizure of a certain amount of his wages.      

Attorneys may also target his crypto holdings and securities on the stock market. Jones frequently solicits his audience to donate to him via cryptocurrency, funds that go directly to him.

Richard Schoenstein, a co-chair of Tarter Krinsky and Drogin’s Financial Services Litigation Group, said Jones probably has offshore accounts that would make it extremely difficult to seize some assets.      

But even in that case, Schoenstein said the verdict is “going to make his life more difficult.”     

“This has to be a life-changing event for him — somebody is going to take away a lot of his money or he’s going to have to change his behavior to keep hiding it,” he said.      

Schoenstein added it was clear the jury made a careful assessment of the damages caused by Jones to the families and delivered a message “that the truth matters.”      

“It should be a warning sign for people who wage conspiracy theories for profit,” he said, but it’s unclear if Jones himself will actually be deterred by the verdict, as he has continually deflected responsibility and blamed others. “He attacks the judges, he attacks the juries. I don’t know if it will be a deterrent because so far it hasn’t deterred Alex Jones.”      

Although this next phase could drag on for years, the families of the victims were never in it for the money, Mattei explained.      

“They had an opportunity to reclaim their voice and sense of control and sense of identity [and] the legacy of their loved ones,” Mattei said. “The jury has made a statement affirming their experience.” 

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