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“The court found the ‘willful, malicious … and hideous’ behavior of Mr. Jones and his traders.”

Alex Jones before the Supreme Court in Waterbury, Connecticut, September 22, 2022. Kirsten Luce / The New York Times

HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) – Infowars host Alex Jones and his company were ordered by a judge on Thursday to pay an additional $ 473 million to propagate false conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school massacre, bringing a full sentence against him in a lawsuit donated by the families of the victims to a staggering $ 1.44 billion.

Connecticut judge Barbara Bellis has fined the host of Infowars and Free Speech Systems. Jones has repeatedly told millions of his followers that a massacre in which 20 first-graders and six teachers were killed it was staged by “crisis actors” to introduce more control over weapons.

“The record clearly confirms the plaintiff’s argument that the conduct of the defendants was deliberate and malicious and certainly did harm due to their infrastructure, ability to distribute content and mass audiences, including information warriors,” the judge wrote in the 45- page ruling.

Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the Sandy Hook families, said he hopes the award will send a message to conspiracy theorists who profit from the lies.

“The court acknowledged the” deliberate, malicious … and heinous “behavior of Mr. Jones and his traders,” Mattei said in a statement.

On Thursday, on his show, Jones called the award “funny” and “a joke” and said he had little money to pay the compensation.

“Well, of course I’m laughing at it,” he said. “It’s like sending me a billion dollar bill in the mail.” Oh man, we got you. It’s all for a psychological effect. That’s all the Wizard of Oz… when they know full well about the ongoing bankruptcy and all the rest, they’ll show what I have and that’s all, and I have almost nothing.

Relatives of the eight victims and an FBI agent testified in a month-long trial of threats and harassment over the years by people who deny that there was a shooting. Strangers showed up at some of their homes and confronted some in public. People threw offensive comments on social media and emails at them. Some have been threatened with d*ath and rape.

Six jurors ordered Jones to pay $ 965 million compensating 15 plaintiffs for defamation, emotional distress, and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Jones, who lives and works in Austin, Texas, found the trial unfair and a violation of the right to freedom of speech. He says he will appeal the verdicts. He also said he didn’t have the money to pay such hefty sentences because he has less than $ 2 million in his account – which contradicts testimony from a similar trial in Texas. Meanwhile, Free Speech Systems seeks bankruptcy protection.

Jones said on Thursday that he only has “a few hundred thousand dollars” in his savings account.

Jones’s lawyer Norm Pattis wrote in a text message to The Associated Press: “To paraphrase Karl Marx, the verdict was a tragedy, the last ruling was a farce. This makes it much easier for us to work on the cancellation. “

Bellis found the parent company of Jones and Infowars liability for damages without a trial last year as a consequence of what she called it repeated failure to provide plaintiffs with many financial and other documents. After the unusual “default” ruling, the jury was only tasked with deciding on the amount of the compensatory damages and whether the punitive damages were justified.

Jones says he has handed over thousands of documents and that the default judgment has deprived him of his right to defend himself against the lawsuit.

Non-pecuniary damage includes approximately $ 323 million in plaintiff’s fees and attorney’s fees and $ 150 million in violations of the Unfair Commercial Practices Act.

In Connecticut, defamation and distress compensation is usually limited to the claimant’s legal fees. Sandy Hook plaintiffs’ lawyers are expected to receive one-third of the $ 965 million in interim compensation.

But there are no restrictions on penal damages for violating the Unfair Commercial Practices Act. The plaintiffs did not ask for a specific amount of punitive damages, but according to one hypothetical calculation, found that under the law such damages could amount to approximately $ 2.75 trillion.

In a similar trial in Texas in August, Jones was ordered to pay nearly $ 50 million to the parents of another child killed in the Sandy Hook shootout for calling the massacre a hoax. A forensic economist testified during this trial that Jones and Free Speech Systems had a combined net worth of up to $ 270 million.

Jones sells dietary supplements, survival gear and other products on his show, which is broadcast on Infowars and dozens of radio stations. Evidence from the Connecticut trial showed that his sales had increased while he spoke of the Sandy Hook shooting, prompting plaintiffs’ lawyers to conclude that he was profiting from the tragedy.

In the recent filings for the bankruptcy of Free Speech Systems in Texas, the company’s budget for October 29 to November 25 is estimated at $ 2.5 million in product sales, while operating costs will be approximately $ 740,000. Jones’s salary was $ 20,000 every two weeks.

On Wednesday, Bellis, a Connecticut judge ordered Jones not to move his assets out of the country as families struggle to seize his estate to secure money for compensation. Jones, meanwhile, asked the judge to order a new trial or at least reduce the compensation to a “nominal” amount.

The third and final Jones fraud trial is expected to begin at the end of the year in Texas. Like Connecticut, Jones was held liable for the damage without trials on both occasions in Texas because he did not hand over many files to plaintiffs.

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