Hopson, Howard C.

Hopson, Howard C. (Colwell)

(1882–1949) financier, utilities executive; born in Fort Atkinson, Wis. A lawyer by training, he began working for the Interstate Commerce Commission in Washington, D.C. By 1915, after seven years with the New York Public Service Commission, he set up H. C. Hopson and Co. to serve as a consultant to public utilities. In 1921, with help from his sisters, he acquired the holding company, Associated Gas and Electric Co. By selling stock in this company, he bought utility companies until by 1925 he had at least 250 companies providing utilities to people from the Philippines to the Canadian Maritime Provinces. His financial wizardry was defeated by the stock market crash of 1929, the Public Utilities Holding Company Act of 1935, and the suit for fraud brought against him by Associated stockholders after the company filed bankruptcy in 1941. Found guilty of defrauding stockholders of $20 million, he was sentenced to prison.