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FCC broadband panel chair arrested in $250 million fraud case

by on18 April 2018

FCC boss Ajit Pai appears to have built his own swamp

The former chair of a panel organised by FCC boss Ajit Pai to advise the agency on broadband matters has been arrested for alleged fraud. Elizabeth Ann Pierce, the former CEO of Quintillion Networks, was appointed by Pai last April to chair the committee.

Pai picked Pierce to run the "broadband deployment advisory council" (BDAC), and from the outside, it was plagued by scandal and accusations of cronyism. At least two members have resigned in disgust, claiming the panel was stocked with industry insiders tasked not only with propping up the status quo but ignoring alternative broadband delivery options, Pai disagrees with -such as community owned and operated networks not run by multi-national companies.

Pierce did not last long because in August she was forced to resign from her role as Quintillion CEO after investigators found she was engaged in an alleged scam that tricked investors into pouring money into a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme.

Pierce convinced two investment firms that the company had secured contracts for a high speed fiber-optic system that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue. She pitched the system as a way to improve Alaska's connectivity to the rest of the country, it's alleged.

Apparently, the allegation is that the whole scheme was made up, and the sales agreements were useless because customers had not signed them. Pierce is alleged to have  apparently forged counterparty signatures on contract after contract. As a result of Pierce’s alleged deception, the investment companies were left with a system that is worth far less than Pierce had led them to believe.

Quintillion says it began cooperating with lawmakers as soon as allegations against Pierce surfaced last year. Pierce was charged with wire fraud last Thursday and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, if convicted.



Last modified on 18 April 2018
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