JUSTICE: Hughes Off the Hook

In a Reno courtroom last week, U.S. District Court Judge Bruce R. Thompson left absolutely no doubt about his low opinion of the Government's case. "The worst criminal pleading I've ever encountered," he snapped. With that, Thompson dismissed charges of stock manipulation, conspiracy, wire fraud and other offenses brought against Billionaire Howard Hughes and four co-defendants for their part in a successful effort from June 1968 to April 1970 to acquire the foundering Air West airline (now Hughes Air West). Thompson, regarded as a tough but fair-minded judge, found no clear criminal activity in the indictment and agreed with...

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