Former CEO of Alaska fiber-optic project faces federal fraud charge

The former chief executive of a company overseeing an Arctic fiber-optic project in Alaska has been arrested and charged with fraudulently inducing two investment companies to commit more than $250 million to the project, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Elizabeth Pierce was CEO of Quintillion until 2017. (Provided by World Trade Center Anchorage)

Elizabeth A. Pierce, 54 and head of Quintillion until her resignation in August 2017, used forged contracts to persuade the investors, according to a statement from the agency. Pierce surrendered to authorities Thursday morning in New York and has been charged with one count of wire fraud.

The investment companies are based in New York. The charges were brought by the U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District of New York. The FBI participated in the investigation.

"To realize her plan to build a fiber optic system that would service Alaska and connect it to the lower 48 states, Elizabeth Ann Pierce allegedly convinced two investment companies that she had secured signed contracts that would supposedly generate hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed future revenue from the system," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said.

The sales agreements were worthless because customers had not signed them, Berman said.

"Instead, as alleged, Pierce had forged counterparty signatures on contract after contract," Berman said. "As a result of Pierce's deception, the investment companies were left with a system that is w....

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