In a recent decision, according to Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC concluded a long-standing action against Sandwich Isles Communications, its parent company, Waimana, and its then sole stockholder, Albert Hee.
Mr. Hee, his two main companies, and several affiliates, were fraudulently engaged in a long running scheme to overcharge the Universal Service Fund by some $27 million. Hee used his ill-gotten gains for everything from $90,000 for a personal masseuse, to family vacations in Europe and the South Pacific, his children’s college tuition, expensive vehicles, and inflated salaries for his wife and children. In 2016, Hee was sentenced to nearly 5 years in federal prison for his illegal activities.
At that time, the Commission – with the help of a USAC investigation — found that Sandwich Isles Communications had no claim to any of the $27 million it improperly obtained from the USF, “not a dime,” according to Pai. The FCC also proposed imposition of a $49.6 million on the company, which has now been approved.
In his statement, Mr. Pai said that with the initiation of bidding in next month’s RDOF Phase I auctions, the unserved Americans living in the Sandwich Isles’ former service areas will have taxpayer dollars used for rural broadband, “not for massages, vacations and cars.”
Albert Hee’s outrageous swindle of the USF and his total disservice to Sandwich Isles’ customers are among the most egregious actions we have ever encountered in our industry. How he got away with this for so many years is equally mind boggling.