A former cable news commentator was arrested on Thursday for allegedly fabricating a 27-year career with the CIA.
According to the Justice Department, 62-year-old Wayne Simmons used the false story to try and gain security clearances and government contracts, including a successful overseas posting to advise military personnel.
He falsely claimed to have worked as an “Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Officer” from 1973 to 2000, the government alleges in its indictment, in order to work with contractors engaged in multi-million dollar deals with the United States government.
He also used his time with the CIA to “bolster his credibility” with someone investing $125,000 in a fake real estate investment, the government charged.
Additionally, Simmons lied on government forms to deny that he had been charged with or convicted of a felony offense and to claim that his prior arrests were “directly related related to his supposed intelligence work for the CIA,” according to the charges.
On his website, Simmons boasts about having been a terrorism analyst with Fox News since 2002, where he has been credited as a “former CIA operative.”
A list of video clips shows him discussing controversies over the CIA’s former brutal interrogation methods, Iran and other issues.
A Fox News spokesperson said Simmons “was never a contributor, only a guest — and he was never paid by the network.”
Simmons’s website also says that he was recruited by the CIA in 1973 out of the U.S. Navy. The website says he “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.”
In recent years, he has been a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, a panel created by the right-leaning Accuracy in Media to investigate the 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in the Libyan city that left four Americans dead.
Simmons was charged with major fraud against the U.S., wire fraud and making false statements to the government. If convicted, he could be imprisoned for decades.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said in a brief statement that the agency was “working closely with the Justice Department on this matter.”
Updated at 3:24 p.m.