(Bloomberg) -- Infowars host Alex Jones was temporarily blocked from transferring any assets or spending money other than for ordinary living expenses by the judge overseeing the Sandy Hook defamation trial in Connecticut.
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State court Judge Barbara Bellis, who oversaw the case in which a jury last month ordered Jones to pay nearly $1 billion for spreading lies about the 2012 elementary school massacre, issued the freezing order late Wednesday over concerns that he was "looting" his own estate and hiding assets through a series of shell companies owned by family members.
"With the exception of ordinary living expenses, the defendant Alex Jones is not to transfer, encumber, dispose, or move his assets out of the United States, until further order of the court," Bellis said in the one-page order.
Jurors awarded five families and a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who responded to the 2012 school massacre $965 million in damages last month to compensate them for the reputational harm and emotional distress caused by years of Jones pushing conspiracy theories that the shooting was faked and the grieving parents were "crisis actors."
Bellis is also currently weighing imposing additional punitive damages on Jones.
The plaintiffs had requested Bellis freeze Jones's assets, and she set a Dec. 2 evidentiary hearing. In court papers, Jones's lawyer urged the judge not to grant the request before that hearing and suggested that, if she did, "in an uncanny way it would bolster Mr. Jones's contention that the results of these proceedings were rigged and that the court appeared partial to the plaintiffs."
It isn't clear how Bellis' order will interact with a related bankruptcy proceeding underway in Houston federal court, where Infowars's parent company, Free Speech Systems LLC, filed for creditor protection back in July. In that proceeding, most claims against Jones's company were temporarily put on hold, although the defamation trial was allowed to proceed, until the bankruptcy court sorts out assets and claims.
The families also asked Bellis to order a complete accounting of Jones's assets, which he has steadfastly refused to provide, and that he be required to bring all movable property to Connecticut for safekeeping by the court. The judge hasn't yet addressed those requests.
The case is Lafferty v Jones, 18-6046436, Connecticut Superior Court (Waterbury).
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