The DOJ accused two D.C. men on Wednesday of orchestrating an expensive and high-profile scheme to ingratiate themselves with federal agents and members of the White House Secret Service detail, but was short on details about how they executed such a plot — or why they allegedly did it.
Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali were each charged with impersonating a federal officer, according to an April 5 complaint.
But an affidavit attached to the complaint, filed by an FBI agent, describes a bizarre scheme that the two allegedly ran to make inroads with multiple Secret Service agents and one DHS agent. The pair allegedly impersonated members of an elite DHS police force, while spending tens of thousands of dollars on free apartments for Secret Service members in their D.C. Navy Yard luxury building.
Federal prosecutors are silent on where the money or direction came from for the alleged operation, saying only that the investigation is ongoing. Taherzadeh and Ali directed at least one neighbor in their Navy Yard apartment complex to gather information on someone who was providing “support” to the intelligence community and Pentagon, the affidavit says, and gave thousands of dollars in gifts to other residents who were agents with the Secret Service.
Those gifts allegedly included “iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen television, a case for storing an assault rifle, a generator, and law enforcement paraphernalia.”
The complaint was filed one day after four Secret Service members were placed on administrative leave in connection with the allegations.
Local news in D.C. showed images of a team of FBI agents in heavy tactical gear raiding multiple units in the Navy Yard building.
According to the affidavit, the probe began after postal inspectors began to investigate a March 14 assault on a mailman in the building.
Residents in the apartment complex told the feds that that Taherzadeh and Ali had potentially witnessed the attack.
When postal inspectors interviewed the two, the affidavit says, they ID-ed themselves as federal agents — supposedly members of the U.S. Special Police Investigation Unit and as “deputized ‘special police'” with D.C. city government, all focused on “undercover gang-related investigations” and Jan. 6-related probes.
The postal inspectors continued their investigation, the affidavit says.
That revealed a black GMC SUV, outfitted with emergency lights, that the pair described as their “official DHS vehicle,” that the two told residents Uncle Sam was footing the bill for the multiple apartments they rented in the complex, and that they had set up “video surveillance” of the building, telling their neighbors that they could access their cell phones at any time.
What’s more, the affidavit says that postal inspectors found that the pair were, in fact, in regular contact with Secret Service agents living in the same complex, giving them and their families gifts and rides in their SUV.
All this led the postal inspectors to share what they were finding about Taherzadeh and Ali with the FBI.
The affidavit recounts several interviews that the FBI had with residents of the complex, including one resident who agreed to go through training to become “deputized” as a DHS agent. That training purportedly involved Taherzadeh shooting the person with an airsoft rifle as Ali watched to “evaluate their pain tolerance and reaction,” before directing the person to “conduct research on an individual that provided support to the Department of Defense and intelligence community.”
Another resident, a Secret Service agent on First Lady Jill Biden’s detail, allegedly received an offer from Taherzadeh for a $2,000 AR-15-style assault rifle. The agent and Taherzadeh traded messages and photos.
After the agent told Taherzadeh that the Secret Service was transitioning its issued service weapon, Taherzadeh told the agent that “we are all transitioning to the Glock 19’s in DHS,” and revealed a “concealed Glock 19 Generation 5 from his appendix area.” In March, Taherzadeh stopped by the agent’s apartment to drop off a “tactical holster” for the Glock, saying he had an extra one lying arond.
Yet another resident reported receiving emails from Taherzadeh at a supposed DHS email address, that the FBI determined was fake. That same resident purportedly received a “rent-free penthouse apartment” with an annual cost of $40,200.
The affidavit says that Taherzadeh and Ali moved into the complex in February 2020, and struck up the relationships over the course of the past two years. The two are scheduled for an initial hearing in court on Thursday.