Ajit Pai’s former FCC broadband advisor arrested on $250 million fraud charges

(Image: © Flickr via USDA (public domain))

FCC chairman Ajit Pai once selected former Quintillion CEO Elizabeth Pierce to serve as one of the members of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), and now a year later she is being charged for allegedly forging contracts to swindle investors out of more than $250 million dollars.

According to US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman, Pierce convinced two investment companies that Quintillion had secured signed contracts from other investors for a high-speed fiber-optic network that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed future revenue.

"As it turned out, those sales agreements were worthless because the customers had not signed them. Instead, as alleged, Pierce had forged counterparty signatures on contract after contract.  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," Berman said in a statement.

Qunitillion is a telecommunications firm in Anchorage, Alaska. Its high-speed fiber-optic cable system consists of three segments, including one that runs beneath the sea and connects Alaska to the lower 48 states.

Pai selected Pierce in April of 2017 to be the chair of the BDAC. The board consists of 30 members, the majority of which work for telecommunications companies, according to The Center for Public Integrity. Pai himself is a former attorney for Verizon. Under Pai's leadership, the FCC voted 3-2 to remove net neutrality rules from the books, that were enacted under the previous administration.

Prosecutors are charging Pierce with a single count of wire fraud. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.