Former Cable News Commentator Arrested and Charged with Fraud
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Wayne Shelby Simmons, 62, of Annapolis, Maryland, a former occasional on-air commentator who appeared on a cable news network, was arrested today after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of major fraud against the United States, wire fraud, and making false statements to the government.
According to the indictment, Simmons falsely claimed he worked as an “Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Officer” for the Central Intelligence Agency (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 the indictment, Simmons also falsely claimed on national security forms that his prior arrests and criminal convictions were directly related to his supposed intelligence work for the CIA, and that he had previously held a top secret security clearance. The indictment also alleges that Simmons defrauded an individual victim out of approximately $125,000 in connection with a bogus real estate investment.
Simmons will make his initial appearance at 2 p.m. today in front of Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson at the federal courthouse in Alexandria.
If convicted, Simmons faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud counts, 10 years in prison on the major fraud against the U.S. counts, and 5 years in prison on the false statements count. The maximum statutory sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement. Simmons will have his initial appearance later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Nathanson is prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1: 15-cr-293.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.