Thursday, February 4, 2016

Guest Co-host on the Baltimore Barristers radio show

At the last minute, I was asked to be a guest co-host for a radio show, The Baltimore Barristers. Here is the link:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wayne's World, the Strange Case of the Superpatriot


It was back in 2007, in Annapolis, in a local establishment that would probably prefer not to be named, when I first met Wayne Simmons. He was there, smoking a cigar, with his then wife (who passed in 2012). Wayne was sitting around the lounge when I and a colleague walked in. He introduced himself and could not have been more of a gentleman.

He told us about how he was former CIA and used to go on “ops” all around the world. I remember him telling us about how he chased a group of black kids off his home in Annapolis (which he described as a farm), with his gun. He was interesting.

I looked him up when he left. I found references to his 27 year CIA career and Fox News appearances on the web. I thought he was the coolest guy in the world.

Not long after this, I heard a story from a local business owner about Wayne. He apparently got completely drunk and tried to arrest a cab driver, claiming the man was a terrorist. Wayne, of course, was arrested. He claimed he was CIA and gave the cop a card with a number to call. Not long after, black SUVs arrived at the police station and someone bailed him out. The charges have disappeared. They were likely dismissed and expunged.

Wayne was working for a defense contractor at the time and was advising senior military personal in Afghanistan. He got that job because he claimed to be a CIA veteran.

I would occasionally see Wayne around town over the next several years. Our interactions were always positive and I thought highly of him, despite his drunken arrest. Who hasn't been a bit out of line after a few drinks anyway? I friended him on Facebook. I thought many of his posts, especially about Obama and Muslims were a bit much, but frankly, I respected and feared him too much to challenge him, even when I suspected he was full of it.

I never doubted that the man was telling the truth about who he was or what he did.

I was completely blown away when I read of his arrest on October 15, 2015, for lying about his CIA background and defrauding the US government and another individual. According to the indictment, filed in Federal Court in Virginia, Wayne:

Count I

On or about December 4, 2009, . .. did willfully and knowingly make a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and representation in a matter within the
jurisdiction of a department or agency of the United States; that is, the defendant sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State in Arlington, Virginia, in support of his previously submitted U.S.
Office of Personnel Management Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, falsely stating that he had been employed as an "Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Officer" for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1973 to 2000.

Count II

. . . From in or about August 2008 through in or about March 2009, within the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere, in connection with the foregoing procurement, the defendant
WAYNE SHELBY SIMMONS did knowingly execute, attempt to execute, and cause to be executed a scheme and artifice with the intent to defraud the United States and to obtain money
by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises.
4. It was part of the scheme and artifice to defraud that:
a. the defendant falsely represented to Company A and to the United States that he had spent 27 years working in "Outside Paramilitary Special Operations" for the CIA;

b. the defendant used this false and fraudulent statement and representation to cause Company A to hire him as a Human Terrain System Team Leader under the requirements of the procurement and to cause the United States to train him at a U.S. Army facility to be deployed overseas alongside and in support of U.S. military personnel, though he never completed training and was never deployed;

c. the defendant submitted to the United States a U.S. Office of Personnel Management Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, falsely stating that he had been recruited to the CIA in 1973, that he had not previously been charged with or convicted of a felony offense, that his prior arrests and criminal convictions were directly related to his supposed intelligence work for the CIA, and that he had held a top secret security clearance from 1973 to 2000; . . .

Counts VI and VII:

. . . From in or about November 2011 through in or about December 2013, in the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere, the defendant WAYNE SHELBY SIMMONS
knowingly devised and intended to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud victim EX. and to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses,
representations, and promises.

12. It was part of the scheme and artifice to defraud that:
a. the defendant falsely represented to EX. that he was a former agent of the CIA, and used his supposed affiliation with the CIA to bolster his credibility with E.L.;
b. the defendant falsely represented to E.L. that he was involved in real estate investment projects and offered E.L. an opportunity to make a $125,000
investment, with terms that included a 3% monthly payment and the option after six months either to pull the funds out of the project or to keep them invested over a longer
period of time;
c. there was in fact no real estate investment, and the defendant used the invested funds for personal purposes; . . .

So, if this was true, Wayne was never in the CIA, had a felony record, and was conning some woman out of her money. This was not the Wayne I knew. Sure he got drunk and violent, but I just figured that was PTSD or something from his CIA work. To make matters worse, the Feds moved to seal the indictment because “The defendant has 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. The defendant, moreover, has a history of acting in an aggressive manner . . .”

Wayne was initially held without bond, but later, after a hotly contested bond review hearing, a Federal judge released Wayne on House Arrest, under very restrictive conditions. After Wayne was released he was telling his friends that he was arrested because he was on to Obama and whatever he was planning and that the Federal judge saw through the prosecutor's lies. I have also heard rumors that two retired generals met with Wayne recently and they are standing by him.

Let us consider this situation.

It is either that our government is so incompetent that it allowed a career criminal get employment advising senior military personal overseas or it hired a career criminal as a CIA agent and paid him to commit crimes overseas and here. (In his semi-auto-biographical novel, Wayne suggests that he took part in murder, torture, and other crimes. On the Bill O'Reilly show, Wayne suggested involvement in torture. Wayne, you don't get a pass on committing crimes just because you are employed by the CIA.) Either prospect is disturbing. If Wayne is telling the truth, the CIA hired him preciously because he was disposable because of his background. More likely, Wayne is just lying. If he had Federal employment, there would be a paper trail.

Looking at Wayne's record is quite concerning. Wayne claims he was hired by the CIA out of the Navy in 1973, but the Navy has no record of him. In 1980, he was involved in a shooting outside a disco in Prince George's County. According to the Washington Post, the US Attorney prosecuting this case said in court that “Simmons was accused of firing a pistol at three people he’d had a verbal altercation with in the parking lot of a disco. . .” According to the same article, the US Attorney claimed that Wayne had 11 DUIs and other convictions, including for possessing a firearm after a felony conviction. How did Wayne manage to get so little time for the 1980 shooting so that he was able to get a new conviction by 1983? How was he able to get 11 DUI convictions? You have to work to get that many convictions. How was he able to describe these convictions as related to his work with the CIA, when the CIA is generally not supposed to be operating on US soil? Was he telling his friends and family that he really was deep on a CIA mission when he was doing his sentences? Why did this record not raise red flags with the people doing the background checks when he applied for contractor jobs?

I could not find how much time Wayne was sentenced to for his conviction for possessing a firearm with a felony conviction in 1983, but on July 19, 1984, he was out of jail and got what may have been his first DUI. According to the Annapolis Capital, Wayne got probation and a fine. According to the paper, he had "no prior convictions." I don't know if they meant just for DUI. Records weren't as good back then. It is possible that they missed his other convictions.



We also know he was out of jail in 1987. In a Washington Post article on February 22, 1988, titled “Entrepreneurs Enter Business of AIDS testing” stated that Wayne and another person named Mark Regan opened a clinic in Greenbelt, MD, the previous year that offered private AIDS/HIV testing for a flat fee of $55. The article mentioned that hospitals required pre-testing and post-testing counseling and Wayne said that many people don't want that. Well, I'm sure that Wayne had his own way of counseling people.

"Guess what you have, Jimmy."

The Post article quotes then Congressman Ron Wyden who said “It's an area that's ripe for fraud and manipulation.” Of course, that was Wayne's angle. Shortly thereafter, he was in trouble with the Feds.

WAYNE S. SIMMONS ENJOINED
The Commission today announced that Wayne S. Simmons consented to a permanent injunction, enjoining him from future violations of the registration and anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933.
From July 1987 through June 1988, Simmons was the president and a member of the Board of Directors of Blood-Check Inc., a company headquartered in Greenbelt, Maryland which offered blood-screening services to test for AIDS. The Complaint alleges that in January and February 1988, Simmons was responsible for Blood-Check’s offering to sell unregistered shares of its common stock by means of a prospectus which contained materially false and misleading statements concerning Blood-Check’s liabilities and its history of operations and revenues. It further alleges that Simmons violated the registration provisions of the Securities Act by advertising the availability of the prospectus through tombstone advertisements placed in The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Annapolis Capitol, and The Baltimore Sun. (SEC v. Wayne S. Simmons, USDC DC, Civil Action No. 88-2899). https://www.sec.gov/news/digest/1988/dig100688.pdf
It does make more sense that Wayne was trying to take advantage of people with this company. But is it possible that it could be related to his alleged CIA work? The CIA has been known to use medical professionals to collect information on people. If so, again, this is a much bigger scandal and doesn't absolve Wayne. It just makes him guilty of bigger crimes against the American people.

What Wayne was doing in the 1990s is still a bit of a mystery. Federal Court records on Pacer appear to show that he filed for bankruptcy in 1991, but this does not appear to be settled until 1997. Although the records from this time period are spotty online, since they haven't scanned in all the old documents. He and his wife were also sued in Federal Court in 1995. The docket entry reads “First National Bank of Maryland vs. Wayne S. Simmons and Corinne T. Simmons”. Pacer shows this disposition “Consent Judgment filed by Plaintiff First National Bank of Maryland, Defendant Wayne S. Simmons, Defendant Corinne T. Simmons Declaring Debt To Be NonDischargeable. (former employee).” What does “(former employee)” there mean, if anything? Was he employed by the bank? Was his wife? I don't know.

Wayne next shows up on September 9, 2002, in an article in the Annapolis Capital titled “Two teens charged in carjacking”. It states that a Wayne Simmons of Annapolis (I can only find one person in Annapolis with that name) was driving down Bywater Road in Annapolis, MD, when he was flagged over by someone who then pulled a gun on him and took his Chevy pickup. Court records show that one of the teens arrested had his charges dismissed in District Court. The other was sent to Circuit Court, but there is no record of the resolution. Were the charges sent to Juvenile Court and disposed of there? If so, why? Did information come to light that suggested Wayne was not telling the truth? I would love to look at those files. So would the Federal prosecutors, I bet, if they haven't already.

Around this time, Wayne joined Fox News. On December 7, 2003, according to TV listings in the New York Times, Wayne was to appear on Weekend Live with Tony Snow. On the same show was also James Woolsey, former director of the CIA. If Wayne wasn't in the CIA, it would have been quite a thing for him to appear on the same show as a former CIA director. What did Woolsey know, if anything, about Wayne? Unfortunately, the former director has turned into (or perhaps always was), a bit of a fringe character. And that's what almost makes Wayne's stories sound like they could be sort of believable. Parts of our government have been run by crazy and dangerous people. Why wouldn't they hire Wayne?

Wayne's crazy comments on Fox are well documented. He was part of a group of retired military and security professionals used by the Bush administration, specifically Rumsfeld, to push the Iraq war and endless war on the American people. Wayne and his crackpot friends say that is not the case.

Aside from pushing for more war, Wayne was also busy selling subprime mortgages. Here is his ad from the Annapolis Capital on August 28, 2004.
 

The ad reeks with arrogance. I wonder how many people picked up the phone and called him.

In 2005, Wayne attempted to start an airline, named Simmons Air. His company would fly people between Baltimore Washington International (BWI) and the Ocean City Airport. He hired a publicly company that put out this release in advance where it claimed that the successful launch of the company would be met with a party that would include “Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr, over 100 local business leaders and Mayor Jim Mathias of Ocean City, Maryland for a ceremonial ribbon cutting and celebration.” He contracted another company, Cape Air, to actually fly the planes. At the last moment, they opted to cancel the contract “reportedly after [Wayne] allowed an employee to bring a loaded gun aboard the plane”. The Washington Examiner also reported and court records confirmed that Simmons Air was successfully sued by numerous people and companies. Wayne was not personally on the hook, because he incorporated his business. His business was, according to state records, later forfeited.

In 2011, he applied for and was granted a patent for a credit card point of service payment authorization payment system. This is not something a typical con man does and partly why it makes Wayne such a mystery. He is an extremely intelligent man and could probably make a good living honestly. If he wasn't in the CIA, why is he running around pretending that he was and stealing from people? Although criminals often don't act logically.

In 2012, Wayne wrote a novel titled the Natanz Directive. It was highly praised by former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld and retired General Thomas McInerney. I recently ordered and read this book. We are really lucky that we survived the Bush administration if people in powerful positions like Rumsfeld and McInerney actually read Wayne's novel and thought it was anything but garbage. This book is pure neocon porn. And the main character is a retired CIA agent with 27 years experience who lives in Annapolis (in other words, Wayne) and who is a “superpatriot”, which is Wayne's favorite word in the book. It is funny as hell. Wayne has a serious Messiah Complex. The main character, Jake Conlan, get it J.C. or Jesus Christ, is the only one who can save the world. He drops down from the sky into the middle east where a loyal bunch of followers sacrifice themselves for him and his mission. Of course, one betrays him. Despite this, he makes a miraculous comeback, saves the world, and returns home to his father figure (Mr. Elliot). The plot is insane. It portrays little understanding of Iran or the middle east. And why, exactly, is the CIA sending a man well past his prime, who has a drinking problem, and who "sucks", by his own admission, at Farsi (the native language) into Iran on their most important mission? Rumsfeld and this general seriously read this and said “yeah, that makes sense.”?

The saga of Wayne Simmons will go on. Will he face additional charges? Will he really go to trial? Will there be broader implications for the granting of security clearances in the future? Will we seriously start looking at who is in power and what they really believe? If he is telling the truth, then as I said above, this has even more serious implications and indicates that our government is even more screwed up than I imagined. I am fascinated by this Simmons character, so much so that I went dressed as him for Halloween. I am even thinking of putting together a Wayne Simmons bar crawl around Annapolis. All you need is a gray mustache (real or fake) and a CIA hat. The bartenders here know him. When I went into one bar dressed as Wayne, the bartender laughed and told me about the last time Wayne was there and how he got kicked out for starting a fight.

I generally hate to pick on a guy when he is down, but Wayne represents much of what is wrong with America. He represents either the incompetence and/or malignancy of many of those in power. For years on Fox News he would spread outrageous hate about Obama, Muslims, or anyone else he didn't like. He has helped to debase our politics and has helped to turn people into extremists. My social media feeds are filled with people posting insane articles from fly-by-night websites that make crazy claims about Muslims, Obama, hispanics, or whatever. And whatever Wayne ultimately turns out to be a real spy, a con man, or something in between, he has contributed much to that culture.

Important links:

Kent Clizbe--Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Commentary
Wayne Simmons, international man of mystery!
The Curious Case of Fake CIA Agent Wayne Simmons and the Military Industrial Complex

Sunday, December 6, 2015

My interview with the Annapolis Podcast

The other day I had a chance to sit down with Scott MacMullan, who runs a popular podcast called the Annapolis Podcast.

Scott asked me about my work with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, my views on some local issues, and then quizzed me (unexpectedly) on Roger B. Taney and the Dred Scott case. I got a few of the details about the Scott case wrong (for example, it was a 7/2 decision, not 6/3 as I said), but I was close.

I enjoyed talking to Scott and wish him good luck with his podcasting.

You can listen to the show here:

Drugs and Dred Scott in Annapolis

The Exorcist Steps

There is plenty of real history in Washington, DC, but in the Georgetown neighborhood, there is movie history as well. The Exorcist Steps are worth a quick visit. Everyone who has seen The Exorcist, remembers the scene where the priest fell out the window and down these steps.





This tourist attraction is located at the corner of Prospect St NW and 36th St NW in Georgetown. It is not uncommon to find people exercising on the steps. When I visited, there were two people running up and down the stairs non-stop. Another woman was walking them as exercise. She seemed annoyed to be in one of my photos, but that's what you get for exercising on the Exorcist steps. It is a popular site and people love photographing them. People also love going up and down them. So good luck getting a decent photo without people on them.

The Exorcist was based, somewhat, on an alleged case of possession of a boy in nearby Maryland. Whether the boy was actually possessed, is a matter of debate. Of course, this location has nothing to do with any real exorcism or haunting, but it is still pretty interesting to visit.



Across the Bay 10k







The Across the Bay10k is a running race across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Often called on the scariest bridges in the world, the Bay Bridge can be unnerving to drive across. Depending on who you are, the idea of running across it can either be appealing or terrifying or both. It is appealing to enough people that they have to limit registration to 20,000 people.

Regarding the race itself, I paid $70, because I signed up late (I think it was $60 before a certain deadline) and then spent another $10 to park at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on the day of the race. Most 10ks are much cheaper than that. I had to pick up my race number and t-shirt the day before the race at the same stadium. Picking up my race number tag was tedious as it was not organized by name and I had to wait in a line to look up my number on a computer, so that I could go to the right table to get it. I would have used my cell phone, but the battery was dead. At most races, when you pick up your number, you also get your shirt. However, they decided to make it more difficult. I had to walk all the way over to the other end of the stadium and then up to the top of that side just to get the race shirt. The purpose of this seemed to be to force you to walk through their expo where vendors were selling things. However, as it was at the end of a long day and a long week and I was in my suit, I didn't appreciate having to go through the extra effort.

I parked at the stadium on the race day and got on a bus to head to the start at the Northrop Grumman location near the bridge. The run itself went well. During the first half I stopped every five minutes to walk and take some pictures. During the second half, which was mostly downhill, I didn't stop at all. I finished with a time of 58:11, which I was satisfied with. After the race, there was beer and food for sale. Buses were running all day to take people back.

Overall, I was happy with the race and, despite my complaints, plan on signing up to run again next year. It is difficult to organize a race this large, but they did a sufficient job.