WASHINGTON -- A regular guest commentator on Fox News who has been lying for years about working for the Central Intelligence Agency was arrested on Thursday and is being charged in connection with falsely claiming he worked as an “Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Officer” for the CIA for nearly three decades.
Wayne Simmons, a 62-year-old who lives in Annapolis, Maryland, was arrested by federal authorities following his indictment by a federal grand jury for allegedly committing major fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to the government. Simmons claims to have worked for the CIA from 1973 to 2000, and "used that false claim in an attempt to obtain government security clearances and work as a defense contractor, including at one point successfully getting deployed overseas as an intelligence advisor to senior military personnel," according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.
In court documents, federal prosecutors alleged that Simmons had a "significant criminal history, including convictions for a crime of violence and firearms offenses, and is believed to have had an ongoing association with firearms notwithstanding those felony convictions." They successfully petitioned a judge to keep Simmons' indictment sealed until his arrest today, noting that Simmons "has a history of acting in an aggressive manner, and is likely aware of the imminent nature of the charges in this case."
Simmons has been interviewed by Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto and has appeared on "Fox & Friends." He has discussed a wide range of issues on the network, including CIA interrogation techniques and, ironically, a former CIA official found guilty on fraud charges. He is a member of the "Citizens Commission on Benghazi," a panel created by the conservative media organization Accuracy in Media that has trafficked in conspiracy theories about the 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in Libya, in which several officials were killed.
In a radio interview with Brian Kilmeade earlier this year, Simmons -- who was identified as a Fox News contributor -- said the Obama administration is the worst the country will ever know. But a Fox News spokesperson told The Huffington Post that “Kilmeade falsely identified Simmons as a contributor in April,” and said that Simmons "was a guest only and is not a paid commentator for the network, nor has he ever been.”
Federal authorities allege Simmons falsely claimed he was recruited by the CIA and that his previous arrests and criminal convictions "were directly related to his supposed intelligence work for the CIA," according to the indictment. The U.S. actually did grant him an "interim secret security clearance" after he was hired as a "Human Terrain System Team Leader" by a government contractor, the indictment stated.
The CIA “is working closely with the Justice Department on this matter,” Ryan Trapani, a CIA spokesperson, told HuffPost.
An online biography claims that, at the CIA, Simmons "spearheaded Deep Cover Intel Ops against some of the world's most dangerous Drug Cartels and arms smugglers from Central and South America and the Middle East." His website states he has been a terrorism analyst for Fox News since 2002. The biography also claims Simmons was "one of the first outside Intelligence officers" to visit Guantanamo Bay in July 2005.
Ali Watkins and Michael Calderone contributed reporting.
This story has been updated to note that Fox News said Simmons was not a paid commentator.