Elizabeth Ann Pierce, former CEO of Quintillion Networks, was appointed by Pai last April to chair the committee, but her tenure only lasted until September. Prosecutors claim she tricked investors into dumping more than $250 million into her scheme before it was discovered. 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.
Pierce forged signatures on contracts to make it appear as though she had secured sales agreements for the new systems.
"As it turned out, those sales agreements were worthless because the customers had not signed them", said USA attorney Geoffrey Berman said in prepared remarks, according to a WSJ report.
An adviser chosen by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to participate in a broadband advisory group was arrested last week on charges of fraud.
For its part, Quintillion says that it "became aware of the situation" previous year and "took swift action and self-reported to the Department of Justice", adding that it "has been cooperating fully with the authorities during this ongoing investigation".
In August, Pierce resigned from Quintillion. Pierce was charged with wire fraud last Thursday and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. At this time, Quintillion does not believe the investigation will affect any services or their plans to expand coverage in Alaska.