John McAfee has been ordered to cough up $25m for the wrongful death of Gregory Faull, his former neighbor in Belize, but refuses to pay and claims he has no assets.
The decision [PDF] by a US federal district judge in Florida was entered by default after former antivirus baron McAfee refused to respond to the lawsuit, brought by Faull's daughter. It follows an appeals court ruling last year that decided the allegations against McAfee were plausible.
Those accusations are extraordinary: that McAfee paid a Belize man $5,000 to torture and kill Faull after his neighbor poisoned McAfee's dogs.
Faull was found alone in his house with a single gunshot wound to the back of his head. An autopsy revealed his body and genitals were repeatedly tasered. The lawsuit alleges that in the early hours of November 11, 2012, a "female associate of McAfee's" turned up at Faull's door to act as a distraction so the hitman – named as Eddie McKoy – was able to "subdue, torture and murder Faull."
Two days earlier, after repeat failed attempts to get McAfee's dozen dogs put under control – they had been repeatedly attacking and biting people on the public beach at the bottom of McAfee's property – Faull told a neighbor that he had decided to "take matters into his own hands" and poison the dogs.
When McAfee found the four poisoned dogs, the lawsuit claims, he shot them dead and began "parading up and down the beach screaming" according to one neighbor's testimony. One day later, Faull was found dead.
McAfee's subsequent behavior made him the police's prime suspect in the murder. While islanders flocked to Faull's house, and were shocked at the slaying on the remote island, one neighbor testified that he saw McAfee sat on his porch watching events and "looking relaxed."
Head in the sand
When the cops turned up to interview McAfee, by his own admission, he hid from them, burying himself in sand on the beach and putting a cardboard box over his head. McAfee then fled the country – crossing the border into Guatemala illegally before claiming a heart attack in order to get back to the United States.
While still in Belize, he spoke to reporters and claimed that police were tying to frame him for the murder, prompting the prime minister of Belize to call him "bonkers" and insist he return and speak to the plod.
McAfee used the resulting media spotlight to offer a $25,000 reward for finding his neighbor's killer, and then embarked on a series of bizarre actions, including posting that he had been arrested on the Mexican border and then claiming that that report was a ruse in order to sneak back into Belize.
Observers noted that for several months McAfee had been posting extensively on an underground internet forum about his use of a new designer drug whose side effects include paranoia and psychotic delusions. McAfee claimed those forum posts were an elaborate joke.
In November 2013, two years after the murder, the wrongful death lawsuit was filed and McAfee was served a writ in person in the United States a year after that. In May 2016, he was served an amended complaint but then the issue got caught up in the legal system while judges decided whether there was a case to answer.
The appeals court decided there was, and in May 2018, McAfee was served again with a third amended complaint. He then embarked on yet more bizarre behavior, claiming that America's Securities and Exchange Commission was persecuting him and that he had "gone underground."
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In November 2018, the court found against him. And today the court announced a $5m award to Faull's daughter for emotional distress as well as $20m in punitive damages and $8,482.43 in funeral expenses.
McAfee responded in typical fashion. "I never responded to the Faul [sic] lawsuit," he said in a statement on Tuesday. "It was a default judgment. I was never suspected of murder by the Belizean authorities or any other authority. I was never charged with murder by Belizean authorities or any other authority. It was a suit based entirely on media reporting."
He went on to reference numerous other lawsuits and judgments against him, claiming that he refuses to "play the legal extortion game aimed at America’s wealthy class" and claimed that other multi-million-dollar lawsuits against him can be bought "for as little as a penny on the dollar" because "I have no assets so have been unable to pay a single penny to any of them."
Meanwhile, the lawyer acting for the Faull estate said that his clients were "very pleased" with judgment, adding that it was the "only justice this family has received." He doesn't expect it to be easy to recover the $25m from McAfee but noted that McAfee does appear to have "substantial resources." ®