Two men are accused of acting as fake Homeland Security agents to get close to Secret Service members and others for years — and one would offer pricey gifts including a gun and $40,000 apartments rent-free, officials in Washington, D.C., say.
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 36, of D.C., were arrested by the FBI on April 6 and are in custody awaiting their first court appearance on April 7, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
They had pretended to be federal agents since February 2020 and claimed they were working on “undercover gang-related investigations” and investigations connected to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, according to an affidavit obtained by McClatchy News.
Taherzadeh is accused of getting close to one Secret Service member assigned to protect first lady Jill Biden and identified as “Witness 2.” Taherzadeh offered to buy them a $2,000 AR-15 style assault rifle, the affidavit said. Additionally, he “loaned out his ‘government vehicle’ to Witness 2’s wife, and also provided her with a generator.”
He also allegedly gave free apartments, “iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen television, a case for storing an assault rifle” and more to multiple Secret Service members and a Homeland Security employee, according to the affidavit.
Attorney information for both Taherzadeh and Ali wasn’t immediately available. They were apprehended at a luxury apartment building the evening of April 6, The Associated Press reported.
The pair “have attempted to use their false and fraudulent affiliation with DHS to ingratiate themselves with members of federal law enforcement and the defense community,” FBI Special Agent David Elias wrote in the affidavit.
In doing so, they got ahold of “paraphernalia with the insignias of and firearms, including handguns and assault rifles, used by federal law enforcement agencies.”
The two men were caught when a U.S. Postal Inspector arrived at the apartment building to “investigate an alleged assault” involving a letter carrier on March 14, the affidavit said. Residents told the inspector the pair might’ve seen it occur.
Taherzadeh and Ali told the USPIS inspector they were a part of the U.S. Special Police Investigation Unit affiliated with Homeland Security, Elias wrote.
Apartment residents told the inspector that the men used multiple apartments within the complex funded by Homeland Security and that they believed the men had surveillance access to residents’ cellphones and personal information, according to the affidavit.
Ultimately, the FBI was notified of the duo’s activities and began its investigation by interviewing several witnesses, including the one Secret Service agent assigned to Jill Biden, the affidavit said.
This agent met Taherzadeh on July 4, 2021, and said Taherzadeh “made it clear that he is the ‘go-to guy’ if a resident needs anything in the (apartment) building” where many federal law enforcement officials and Taherzadeh lived, according to Elias.
To further “represent himself” as a Homeland Security agent, Taherzadeh sent the Secret Service member a selfie in an apparent “HSI ‘vest’” with the word “police” and his name on it, the affidavit showed.
Taherzadeh also sent this individual “several other photos of (him) in police tactical gear” and with gear in his own apartment, according to prosecutors.
Additionally, Taherzadeh pretended to be in a Homeland Security training session on Feb. 22 and sent the Secret Service member an internet stock photo purporting to be in the training session, the affidavit said.
Taherzadeh is also accused of giving two other Secret Service members, assigned to protect the White House, apartments rent-free, the affidavit said. Both cost roughly more than $40,000 a year.
Both Taherzadeh and Ali are charged with false impersonation of a U.S. officer, according to the attorney’s office.
Four Secret Service agents were put on leave this week in connection with the case, prosecutors told The Associated Press.