A broadband adviser selected by the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai to head a federal advisory committee was arrested last week for claims to trick investors into investing money in a multimillion-dollar investment fraud scheme, according to The Associated Press. Wall Street Journal.
The consultant, Elizabeth Pierce, is the former CEO of Quijntillion, an Alaskan-based fiber optic cable provider operating from Anchorage. In his capacity as CEO, Pierce allegedly raised more than $ 250 million from two New York-based investment companies that use counterfeit contracts with other companies that guarantee hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue. Pierce quit Quintillion in August of last year, and she resigned her role on the Pai Broadband Implementation Advisory Committee (BDAC) the following month.
Pai chose Pierce last year to chair his recently created broadband advisory group
"In the end it turned out that these sales agreements were worthless because the clients had not signed them," US attorney Geoffrey Berman said in prepared comments, as reported by the WSJ. "Instead, as alleged, Pierce had forged counterparty signatures in one contract after another.As a result of Pierce's deception, the investment companies were left with a system that is worth far less than Pierce had led them to believe." Pierce was trying to raise money to help build a fiber optic system that would connect Alaska with high speed internet and better help to connect it to networks in other US states. UU Pierce was charged with electronic fraud last Thursday and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Pierce was elected by Pai in April of last year to be the president of the BDAC, which he formed "to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access, or broadband, by reducing and eliminating regulatory barriers to investment in infrastructure." According to broadband industry news and the Stop the Cap defense website, Pierce may have entered Pai's radar complaining about how cumbersome it was to bring Internet access to parts of the country such as Alaska.
In a statement issued last week, Quintillion says it began cooperating with the Justice Department as soon as allegations against Pierce came to light last year. "Quintillion learned of the situation regarding Ms. Pierce's alleged actions last year, took quick action and self-reported to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Quintillion has been cooperating fully with authorities during this investigation into course, "reads the company's press release on the charges. The company goes on to say that "the ongoing investigation has not affected Quintillion's operations or the quality of its services," and that "it continues to aggressively move to extend its network and provide world-class telecommunications to Alaska and beyond."