WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Fox News guest terrorism analyst was arrested on Thursday after a grand jury indicted him on charges of falsely claiming to have been a CIA agent for decades, U.S. prosecutors said.
Wayne Simmons, 62, of Annapolis, Maryland, bogusly portrayed himself as an “Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Officer” for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1973 to 2000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Virginia’s Eastern District said in a statement.
Simmons allegedly tried to use that claim to get government security clearances and work as a defence contractor. At one point he was deployed overseas as an intelligence adviser to senior military officers, the statement said.
He faces charges of major fraud against the United States, wire fraud and making false statements to the government.
He has appeared on Fox News, a unit of 21st Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O), as a guest analyst on terrorism since 2002 and has a wide presence among conservative groups, a profile on Amazon.com said.
Fox News spokeswoman Carly Shanahan said Simmons had been a guest on the network and had not been paid.
The indictment said that Simmons falsely claimed on national security forms that his previous arrests and convictions were related to his CIA work and that he had held a top secret security clearance.
The indictment also alleged that Simmons defrauded a victim out of about $125,000 through a bogus real estate investment.
The Amazon.com profile said he worked in anti-narcotics operations and in 2004 was part of Pentagon program for military and intelligence analysts. He is co-author of the thriller “The Natanz Directive.”
Simmons is a contributor to the conservative publication Human Events, the profile said. He also spoke at a 2013 forum sponsored by the Citizens Committee on Benghazi probing the deaths of four Americans in Libya in 2012.
The CIA said in a statement that it was working closely with the Justice Department on the matter. It referred queries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
(This version corrects corporate parent in paragraph 5 to 21st Century Fox, instead of News Corp)
Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Will Dunham