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Judge suspends collection of  million Alex Jones owes parents of Sandy Hook victims

Judge suspends collection of $50 million Alex Jones owes parents of Sandy Hook victims

A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday halted an effort by the parents of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting to begin collecting some of the $50 million they won in a lawsuit against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for his false claims that the massacre took place. a farce.

Newtown Shooting InfowarsNewtown Shooting Infowars

Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones speaks to the media after arriving at federal court for a hearing before a bankruptcy judge on Friday, June 14, in Houston. David J. Phillip/Associated Press file

Attorneys for Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was killed in the 2012 Connecticut shooting, obtained an order from a Texas state judge earlier this month allowing them to begins to collect some goods from Jones’ company. Free Speech Systems parent of Infowars. That order came after the company’s bankruptcy reorganization failed and its case was dismissed.

But U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez in Houston said Thursday that the state judge’s decision conflicts with federal bankruptcy law.

Lopez said a new trustee appointed to oversee the liquidation of Jones’ personal assets now has control of his ownership in Free Speech Systems. Lopez said the trustee, Christopher Murray, has the authority under federal law to sell the company’s assets and distribute the proceeds equally among all of Jones’ creditors, including other relatives of Sandy Hook victims who were awarded more than $1.4 billion in a similar lawsuit in Connecticut over Jones’ lies about the shooting.

“I don’t think the state court was actually informed of all these issues,” Lopez said.

Murray plans to shut down Infowars, the multimillion-dollar moneymaker Jones built over the past 25 years selling nutritional supplements, survival gear and other products.

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

Bankruptcy attorneys for Jones and his company did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday. Jones said on his show Thursday that while Infowars may be gone in two to three months, he will restart his shows on another platform that he will have to build from the ground up. He also claimed that Lewis and Heslin’s efforts in Texas state court to obtain some of his assets were “illegal.”

Murray filed a motion Sunday asking Lopez to stop Lewis and Heslin’s collection efforts in state court, saying they would interfere with the closing and liquidation of Jones’ company.

Free Speech Systems, based in Jones’ hometown of Austin, Texas, filed for bankruptcy reorganization in July 2022 amid the Texas lawsuit that resulted in a $50 million defamation award to Lewis and Heslin. Jones filed for personal bankruptcy reorganization later in 2022 after relatives of eight children and adults killed in the shooting won the Connecticut lawsuit.

On June 14, Lopez converted Jones’ personal bankruptcy reorganization case into a liquidation, meaning many of his assets will be sold to pay creditors, except for his primary home and other properties exempt from liquidation. That same day, Lopez also dismissed Free Speech Systems’ bankruptcy case after Jones and the families could not agree on a final plan.

The bankruptcies automatically froze Sandy Hook families’ efforts to collect state lawsuit awards. Lawyers for Lewis and Heslin said the dismissal of the Free Speech System case meant they could return to Texas state court in Austin and ask a judge to order the company to begin handing over money and other assets to Lewis and Heslin.

“Our clients are frustrated that they will not be allowed to exercise their rights in state court,” said Mark Bankston, an attorney for Lewis and Heslin. “It appears this case will remain in limbo, much to Mr. Jones’s delight, while the other group of plaintiffs insist they are entitled to almost all of the recovery.”

Lewis and Heslin have been at odds with relatives in the Connecticut lawsuit over how Jones’ bankruptcies should be wound up and how his assets should be sold.

Relatives in the Connecticut lawsuit fought to dismiss Free Speech Systems from bankruptcy, saying it would lead to a “race” between the Sandy Hook families in state courts in Texas and Connecticut to see who could get Jones’ assets first. The Connecticut plaintiffs favored the trustee’s motion to halt collection efforts in Texas.

“Connecticut families have always sought a fair and equitable distribution of Free Speech System assets for all families, and today’s decision puts us back on that path,” said Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the Sandy Hook relatives who sued trial of Jones in Connecticut. .

The Newtown, Conn., shooting killed 20 first-graders and six educators. Not all of the victims’ families have sued Jones.

Relatives said they were traumatized by Jones’ farcical conspiracies and the actions of his followers. They testified they were harassed and threatened by Jones’ loyalists, some of whom personally confronted the grieving families, saying the shooting never happened and their children never existed. A parent said someone threatened to dig up his dead son’s grave.

Jones is appealing the rulings in state courts. He said he now believes the shooting happened, but his right to free speech allowed him to say it didn’t.

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