Wayne Simmons, a frequent commentator on Fox News, was arrested Thursday after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he lied about his ties to the CIA. Simmons is accused of falsely claiming that he worked as an "outside paramilitary special operations officer" for the CIA from 1973 to 2000, according to CNN.
Simmons is a familiar face on the network, having appeared on various programs and segments where he typically discussed subjects related to terrorism, the CIA and national security. He is a member of the "Citizens Commission on Benghazi," a panel created by conservative media organization Accuracy in Media that has trafficked in conspiracy theories about the 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in Libya, in which several officials were killed.
Simmons also discussed a story about a former CIA official found guilty on fraud charges.
Following the announcement of his arrest, Fox spokesperson Irena Briganti said Simmons "was never a contributor for Fox News," and he only appeared on the network as a non-paid guest. She then declined to comment further.
Contrary to the networks official statement, Simmons' web site lists him as a "terrorism analyst" for the news network, while the network's website itself lists lists dozens of appearances and quotes, usually labeling him a former CIA "operative," "analyst" or "officer."
Making his initial court appearance Thursday, Simmons was brought up on charges of major fraud against the United States, wire fraud and making false statements to the government.
Contrary to his "exemplary" status as an ex-CIA member, federal prosecutors revealed Simmons had a "significant criminal history, including convictions for a crime of violence and firearms offenses, and is believed to have had an ongoing association with firearms notwithstanding those felony convictions," according to the Huffington Post. They successfully petitioned a judge to keep Simmons' indictment sealed until his arrest, noting he "has a history of acting in an aggressive manner, and is likely aware of the "imminent nature of the charges in this case."
The indictment is a wake-up call for every news network that relies on the input of analysts based on their supposed credentials and past media appearances.
Simmons faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.