Infowars host Alex Jones and his company were ordered by a judge Thursday to pay an extra $473 million for promoting false conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school massacre, bringing the total judgment against him in a lawsuit filed by the victims’ families to a staggering $1.44 billion. Connecticut Judge Barbara Bellis imposed the punitive damages on the Infowars host and Free Speech Systems, the Associated Press reports. Jones repeatedly told his millions of followers the massacre that killed 20 first graders and six educators was staged by “crisis actors” to enact more gun control. "The record clearly supports the plaintiffs’ argument that the defendants’ conduct was intentional and malicious, and certain to cause harm by virtue of their infrastructure, ability to spread content, and massive audience including the infowarriors,” Bellis wrote.
Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the Sandy Hook families, said he hopes the award sends a message to conspiracy theorists who profit from lies. “The Court recognized the ‘intentional, malicious ... and heinous’ conduct of Mr. Jones and his business entities,” Mattei said. On his show Thursday, Jones called the award “ridiculous” and a “joke” and said he has little money to pay the damages. "Well, of course I’m laughing at it,” he said. “It’d be like if you sent me a bill for a billion dollars in the mail. Oh man, we got you. It’s all for psychological effect. It’s all the Wizard of Oz ... when they know full well the bankruptcy going on and all the rest of it, that it’ll show what I’ve got and that’s it, and I have almost nothing.” Eight victims’ relatives and an FBI agent testified during a month long trial about being threatened and harassed for years by people who deny the shooting happened. Strangers showed up at some of their homes and confronted some of them in public. People hurled abusive comments at them on social media and in emails. Some received death and rape threats. Six jurors ordered Jones to pay $965 million to compensate the 15 plaintiffs for defamation, infliction of emotional distress and violations of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.