© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Infowars founder Alex Jones speaks to the media after appearing at his Sandy Hook defamation trial at Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S., October 4, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Segar
By Dietrich Knauth
(Reuters) – Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Monday asked a judge to allow him to take a $1.3 million annual salary from the bankrupt parent company of his Infowars’ website.
Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems LLC, both went bankrupt in recent months as they owe families of the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting a total of $1.5 billion in damages for falsely claiming the massacre was a hoax. Jones has said he cannot pay those judgments, which came after back-to-back defamation trials in Texas and Connecticut.
Jones drew a $1.3 million salary from Free Speech Systems before its bankruptcy, and his attorney asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez to restore his salary to that level at a hearing Monday.
Jones has been paid a reduced biweekly salary of $20,000 since his company filed for bankruptcy on July 29, just over a third of what he had been paid before, according to his court filing.
Free Speech System’s monthly revenue has dropped to $1.9 million from pre-bankruptcy levels of $6 million to $7 million, attorneys from the company said, adding that it currently has about $1.8 million in cash.
“We’ve really got to get back to that level of production to make this a profitable company and try to pay back our creditors,” Jones’ attorney Vickie Driver said.
Marty Brimmage, an attorney for the Sandy Hook families, opposed Jones’ request for an increased salary.
Lopez said he is “open to increasing” Jones’ pay but did not have enough evidence to make a ruling yet.
Jones claimed for years that the 2012 killing of 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was staged as part of a government plot to seize Americans’ guns. He has since acknowledged the shooting occurred, but plaintiffs said Jones cashed in for years off his lies about the massacre and subjected them to harassment and stalking by his followers.