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
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)
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)
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)
Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai gestures a salute during the swearing in ceremony for Ashraf Ghani as the country's president at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on September 29, 2014. Ashraf Ghani, a one-time US-based academic, was sworn in as the new president of Afghanistan on September 29, taking power as NATO troops end their 13-year war without defeating the fierce Taliban insurgency. Abdullah was also sworn in as chief executive, a new role similar to a prime minister, in a government structure far different to Karzai's all-powerful presidency. 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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