Elizabeth Pierce, a broadband adviser selected by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and former telecom CEO, was arrested last week on fraud charges. Prosecutors claim she tricked investors into dumping more than $250 million into her scheme before it was discovered.
As the former head of Quintillion, an Alaskan fiber optic provider, Pierce worked with two New York investment companies to raise money for network expansions. Her plan was to help expand high-speed internet coverage in Alaska and to better connect it to the rest of the United States.
Pierce forged signatures on contracts to make it appear as though she had secured sales agreements for the new systems. Unfortunately, "those sales agreements were worthless because the customers had not signed them," said attorney Geoffrey Berman. Pierce faces a maximum of 20 years for wire fraud of convicted.
In her time at Quintillion, Pierce was a vocal advocate for bringing internet access to many remote regions of Alaska. In addition to serving as Quintillion's CEO, Ajit Pai also chose Pierce to chair the new Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC). The goal of the BDAC was to improve high-speed internet coverage and reduce regulations required for making infrastructure improvements.
Quintillion reported the incident last year to the Department of Justice and has since been cooperating with the investigation. Pierce resigned from Quintillion last August and stepped down from the BDAC in September. At this time, Quintillion does not believe the investigation will affect any services or their plans to expand coverage in Alaska.
Lead photo credit - KTUU