Wayne Shelby Simmons, who presented himself as a national security expert on Fox News, has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges. Simmons, 62, from Annapolis, Maryland, falsely claimed he worked as an “Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Officer” for the CIA for nearly three decades.
On Fox News, Simmons was often referred to as a “former CIA operative.” The only problem is that he lied and in late October, Simmons was arrested.
Simmons pleaded guilty to “major fraud against the government, wire fraud and and a firearms offense” on Friday.
CNN Money reports:
Simmons falsely claimed that he worked as an “outside paramilitary special operations officer” for the CIA from 1973 to 2000, and used that boast to obtain security clearances and an assignment as a defense contractor, where he advised senior military personnel overseas.
Simmons admitted to defrauding the government and to making false statements about his financial and criminal history. He also acknowledged that there were no records or evidence that he was ever employed by the CIA.
“Wayne Simmons is a convicted felon with no military or intelligence experience,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Simmons admitted he attempted to con his way into a position where he would have been called on to give real intelligence advice in a war zone. His fraud cost the government money, could have put American lives at risk, and was an insult to the real men and women of the intelligence community who provide tireless service to this country.” “This case is a prime example of this office’s ongoing commitment to vigorously prosecute government fraud and threats to national security,” Boente added.
Simmons is scheduled to be sentenced on July 15 and will face possible maximums of 10 to 20 years on the various charges.
A Fox News spokesperson told CNNMoney that Simmons “was never a commentator or contributor,” because he was not paid by the network and she added that there was no need to comment.
We beg to differ. When networks continually host ‘experts’, it’s up to them to vet them. However, Simmons’ talking points fit in with Fox News’ narrative of the Benghazi attacks.
Media Matters reports:
Simmons was a member of Accuracy in Media’s (AIM) “Citizens’ Commission” on Benghazi — part of the conservative media’s ultimately successful push to get House Republicans to set up a panel to investigate the Benghazi attack. In that capacity, Simmons appeared on Fox and falsely claimed that the Obama administration had decided “to not rescue our former CIA operatives and our military” in Libya.
When Simmons was first arrested for the fraud charges, AIM scrubbed references to his role from its website. Fox News acknowledged that he had appeared on the network as a “national security and terrorism expert,” but said he “was never employed by the channel and was never paid by Fox.”
As an alleged ‘news’ network, Fox should at least accept some responsibility. That is, if they truly believe in ”accuracy in media.”