BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Concern over a government security breach. The Justice Department says a cable news commentator from Annapolis who claimed to be a CI agent is really a fraud.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren with how he got a high level security clearance.
That is a big question–he even got deployed overseas to advise senior military officials and trained with the U.S. Army, this week, being being arrested and indicted in federal court.
Wayne Simmons had no trouble calling out others on cable news, but the Department of Justice claims Simmons was the liar. He called Maryland home, living in Annapolis, and the government alleges falsely claimed he worked as a CIA officer for 27 years.
Most troubling, the government alleges he was able to gain top-level security clearances.
In the indictment, obtained by WJZ, the U.S. attorney says Simmons “…used false and fraudulent statements to cause the United States to grant him an interim secret security clearance.”
The indictment says Simmons even worked as an intelligence advisor to senior military staff.
Vernon Herron is with the University of Maryland’s Center for Health and Homeland Security:
“We rely heavily on security clearances so people can have access to certain information and go into certain buildings and things of that nature. It is shocking that he’s able to get a clearance based on information that he provided,” he said.
Simmons made numerous appearances over the years on the Fox News Channel, whose spokeswoman called him a “non-paid guest,” where he gave fiery critiques of the Obama administration and was billed as a CIA expert.
Published reports reveal there were red flags, and there are open questions into how Simmons was able to gain access to secret government information.
He faces a maximum of 35 years in prison if convicted.
“That is a very comprehensive process. You have to fill out tons of paperwork in order to get these clearances and it’s checked by a lot of people,” said Herron. “I think that’s one of the things that really needs to be looked into.”
The indictment also says Simmons explains away his past criminal record by explaining it had to do with his past intelligence work for the CIA.
The government also claims Simmons defrauded a person out of $125,000 in a bogus real estate deal.