An Annapolis man who falsely claimed to work for the CIA was sentenced Friday to nearly three years in prison as a result of fraud convictions related to his deceptions.
A federal judge sentenced Wayne Shelby Simmons, a 62-year-old whose claims of CIA work propelled him into a guest slot as a terrorism analyst on Fox News and to work as a defense contractor, to 33 months in prison.
While Simmons entered a guilty plea to the charges in April, averting what would have been an intriguing trial that likely could have featured testimony from high profile witnesses including CIA employees and Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, he has maintained in court documents that he did work for the CIA for 27 years. In court filings, Simmons detailed several operations he claimed to have worked on — ranging from an undercover investigation of a heroin- and arms-trafficking organization involving Iranian criminals active in D.C. in the 1980s to an intelligence-gathering mission involving Kazakh officials in the 1990s.
“Simmons has no military or intelligence background, or any skills relevant to the positions he attained through his frauds,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where Simmons was prosecuted. “He is quite simply a criminal and a con man, and his fraud had the potential to endanger national security and put American lives at risk in Afghanistan.”
The FBI announced in October that agents had arrested Simmons and that he had been indicted on charges of major fraud against the United States, wire fraud and making false statements to the government.
A Fox spokesperson said at the time that Simmons was not paid for his appearances on the network and that he was “never a contributor for Fox News, only a guest.”
Prosecutors said that Simmons defrauded the government by lying about his experience in order to obtain two defense contractor jobs in Afghanistan. He also pleaded guilty to defrauding a woman of $125,000 that he claimed would be put toward a real estate investment. Prosecutors said he earned the woman’s trust through claims he was a former CIA agent and lied about his involvement in the real estate business to convince the woman to wire him the money for an investment. In fact, no investment was ever made and Simmons used the funds for personal expenses.
In addition to the 33 months in prison, Simmons was also sentenced to three years supervised release, to forfeit more than $175,000 in criminal proceeds and to pay restitution to the victims.