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Tiff over LightSquared reveals odd partnership

Stephen Lawson | Feb. 3, 2012
LightSquared founder Philip Falcone's response to ethics allegations by a U.S. senator sheds some light on a strange chapter in the carrier's ongoing bid to build a controversial cellular data network.

Ruelle is also a longtime telecommunications executive who has held positions at MCI, Sprint International, former satellite service provider PanAmSat and other carriers, according to his biography on Fine Point's website. The privately held company, based in New York, sells software for remote device management, service installation, customer care management and other functions for Internet service providers.

Ruelle did not return a call requesting comment. But in his own response on Wednesday to Grassley's Jan. 23 letter, Ruelle denied he had offered an Iowa call center in return for Grassley laying off LightSquared. His comment about the call center was in response to a Grassley staff member's statement that LightSquared's LTE network would not create rural jobs, Ruelle wrote.

When he called Grassley's office, Ruelle said he had been offering Falcone advice about LightSquared. This much Harbinger admitted in a letter to Grassley on Tuesday. Falcone and Ruelle first met in 2007, and Ruelle contacted Falcone last June to offer advice and assistance. "Mr. Ruelle had significant experience in the telecommunications industry and Mr. Falcone appreciated and welcomed his potential contribution on the GPS issue and other matters," Mark Paoletta, a lawyer for Harbinger, wrote.

Ruelle also helped to set up an interview with Falcone on Fox News in September, Paoletta said. In addition, Falcone thought Ruelle could use his links with Deere to set up a meeting with that company.

However, judging from Falcone's Jan. 23 email to Grassley, the relationship has chilled. "For some reason or another, he, like many others is enamored with LightSquared and wants to see us succeed, which I can appreciate," Falcone wrote. "Unfortunately, some people overstep and try to be a hero despite not having a role at all. Maybe it's about the David vs. Goliath thing but whatever it is, there are many out there."


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