Fox News terrorism pundit pleads guilty to faking CIA ties

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Fox News Analyst Accused of Faking CIA Ties Pleads Guilty to Fraud

WASHINGTON, April 29 (Reuters) - A Fox News guest terrorism analyst pleaded guilty on Friday to U.S. charges that he fraudulently claimed to have been a CIA agent for decades, federal prosecutors said.

Wayne Simmons, 62, of Annapolis, Maryland, entered the plea in U.S. district court in Alexandria, Virginia, a Washington suburb, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

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The plea came in a hearing in which Simmons changed the not-guilty plea he had made in October.

"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," said Dana Boente, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Simmons had appeared on Fox News, the top-ranked U.S. cable television news network, as an unpaid guest analyst on terrorism since 2002.

A grand jury indicted him in October for portraying himself as an "Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Officer" for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1973 to 2000.

Simmons pleaded guilty to charges of major fraud against the U.S. government, wire fraud and a firearms offense. He faces up to 40 years in prison. Sentencing is set for July 15.

Simmons admitted that he defrauded the government in 2008 when he got work as a team leader in an Army program, and again in 2010 when he was deployed to Afghanistan as an intelligence adviser, the statement said.

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Fox News terrorism pundit pleads guilty to faking CIA ties
Georgian troops march during a sending off ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Georgian troops will take part in the NATO peace support mission in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
Georgian troops march during a sending off ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Georgian troops will take part in the NATO peace support mission in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
A Georgian soldier touches the head of his daughter during a sending off ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Georgian troops will take part in the NATO peace support mission in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
A Georgian soldier, back to a camera, and his relative embrace each other after a sending off ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Georgian troops will take part in the NATO peace support mission in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
International Security Assistance Forces take party in a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Monday, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011. There are around 15,000 troops now in the country.(AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
An International Security Assistance Force musician performs during a flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Monday, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011. There are around 15,000 troops now in the country.(AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
International Security Assistance Force Joint Command (IJC), Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson, right, and commander of International Security Assistance Force, General John F. Campbell, center, salute during a flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Monday, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011. There are around 15,000 troops now in the country.(AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) looks on as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (R) heads to his podium for a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on December 6, 2014. An additional 1,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan next year to meet a temporary shortfall in NATO forces, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said December 6 during a visit to Kabul. AFP PHOTO/WAKIL KOHSAR (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
The International Security Assistance Forces band plays during flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Monday, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011. There are around 15,000 troops now in the country.(AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
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Afghanistan's national security adviser Mohmmad Hanif Atmar, second right, and NATO ambassador to Afghanistan Maurits Jochems, left, shake hands at the signing of the NATO-Afghanistan Status of Forces Agreement at the presidential palace, as Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, center, and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, second left, attend in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Afghanistan and the United States signed a long-awaited security pact on Tuesday that will allow U.S. forces to remain in the country past the end of year. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
Afghan President Ashraf Ghan (R) shakes hands with deputy commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) German Army Lt. General Carsten Jacobson (L) after signing of documents to allow some US troops to stay in Afghanistan at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on September 30, 2014. Afghanistan and the United States on September 30 signed a deal to allow some US troops to stay in the country next year, signalling that new President Ashraf Ghani intends to mend frayed ties with Washington. Hamid Karzai, who stepped down as president on September 29, refused to sign the deal in a disagreement that symbolised the breakdown of Afghan-US relations after the optimism of 2001 when the Taliban were ousted from power. Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and US Ambassador James Cunningham inked the document at a ceremony in the presidential palace in Kabul as Ghani stood behind the pair looking on. AFP PHOTO/SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
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An International Security Assistance Force stands guard during a flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Monday, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011. There are around 15,000 troops now in the country.(AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
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Afghan President Ashraf Ghan (R) shakes hands with deputy commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) German Army Lt. General Carsten Jacobson (L) after signing of documents to allow some US troops to stay in Afghanistan at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on September 30, 2014. Afghanistan and the United States on September 30 signed a deal to allow some US troops to stay in the country next year, signalling that new President Ashraf Ghani intends to mend frayed ties with Washington. Hamid Karzai, who stepped down as president on September 29, refused to sign the deal in a disagreement that symbolised the breakdown of Afghan-US relations after the optimism of 2001 when the Taliban were ousted from power. Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and US Ambassador James Cunningham inked the document at a ceremony in the presidential palace in Kabul as Ghani stood behind the pair looking on. AFP PHOTO/SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
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He said he made similar false statements in a 2009 bid to get work with the State Department's Worldwide Protective Service.

Simmons also admitted to defrauding an unidentified woman out of $125,000 in a bogus real estate investment. When he was arrested, Simmons illegally possessed two firearms, which he was barred from having because of prior felonies, including a state conviction and two federal firearms violations.

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