I am sorry to report the passing of John J. Hughes. John was the longtime Chief of the Philadelphia Office of the Antitrust Division, United States Department of Justice. I had the good fortune of working under John for many years until his retirement in 1994. John was loved by all who worked for him as a great boss, priceless mentor, and dear friend. We all owe him a great debt.
After John “retired” he really spread his knowledge throughout the Antitrust Division, acting as a trial advisor for many staffs. Over the next two decades I think John worked with staffs from every field office. Trial is the most stressful event for a Division attorney and John was always a wise, calm, and supportive counselor. John left a trail of friendships throughout the Division. John was also well like and respected by defense counsel, Judges–anyone he came across. I would not normally post an obit but John was a very special person and I know many people will be sad to read this but glad to remember John.
John had many successes as a lawyer. Too many to mention. In any event, people remember John not for the great work he did, but how he made people feel; appreciated and respected whether you were with the government or on the other side. I will, however, honor John with mention of one matter he was the lead on– the legendary:
The Great Electrical Equipment Conspiracy
Undoubtedly the most celebrated price fixing antitrust case of modern times is the electrical equipment manufacturers price conspiracy, decided in 1961 (1). Involved were some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious firms, such as General Electric, Westinghouse, Allis-Chalmers, Federal Pacific, I-T-E Circuit Breaker, Carrier, and many others. The charges: that various employees of said firms had, between 1956 and 1959, combined and conspired to “raise, fix, and maintain” the prices of insulators, transformers, power switchgear, condensers, circuit breakers, and various other electrical equipment and apparatus involving an estimated $1.7 billion worth of business annually. (2)
A series of Philadelphia grand jury indictments was returned during 1960. After much discussion between the defendants and the Department of Justice, the firms were allowed to plead guilty to some of the more serious charges, and nolo contendere to the rest. On 6 February, 1961, Judge Ganey sent seven executives off to jail, gave 23 others suspended jail sentences, and fined the firms involved nearly $2 million. Subsequent triple damage suits brought against the equipment manufacturers by the TVA and private firms that had been “overcharged”, increased the financial penalty manyfold. And so ended the most publicized price conspiracy in all business history.
Farewell and thanks dear friend.