A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted two men who federal prosecutors say impersonated Department of Homeland Security agents and heaped gifts on actual Secret Service agents.
“Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 36, were arrested on April 6 but U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey released the men last Wednesday under conditions that include supervision and GPS monitoring,” Fox News reported.
“Both men were already charged by criminal complaint with false impersonation of an officer, but they were indicted for possessing a Glock magazine on Tuesday. Taherzadeh was also indicted for possession of five Sig Sauer magazines,” the outlet added. “Prosecutors said in court that the FBI found multiple firearms as well as sniper scopes, body armor, and gas masks when they raided five apartments associated with the men earlier this month.”
According to the grand jury indictment, the men pretended to be federal agents for more than two years — from February 2020 until this month.
The defendants “falsely issued and pretend to be an officer and employee acting under the authority of the United States, and any department, agency and office thereof, and acted as such, and in such pretended character demanded and obtained money, papers, documents and things of value; that is, TAHERZADEH and ALI falsely acted as if they were authorized agents and employees of the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies to recruit other individuals to fabricated law enforcement positions, and pretended to be agents and employees of the Department of Homeland Security to obtain things of value from Crossing DC and One Parking,” Wednesday’s indictment read, Law & Crime reported.
According to authorities, Taherzadeh and Ali were attempting to “ingratiate themselves with members of federal law enforcement and the defense community” who lived in their apartment complex.
Taherzadeh even “made it clear that he is the ‘go-to guy’ if a resident needs anything in the building,” authorities said, citing a witness. Taherzadeh provided “gifts or favors for residents, many of whom were members of law enforcement, including the FBI, USSS, or DHS, or employees of government agencies, including the Department of Defense and Navy,” they added.
So what did those gifts include?
“Specifically, Taherzadeh has provided members of the United States Secret Service (USSS) and an employee of DHS with, among other things, rent-free apartments (with a total yearly rent of over $40,000 per apartment), iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen television, a case for storing an assault rifle, a generator, and law enforcement paraphernalia. Taherzadeh also offered these individuals use of, what Taherzadeh represented to be ‘official government vehicles,'” according to an arrest affidavit.
Moreover, Taherzadeh allegedly offered to obtain for one witness — a Secret Service agent on first lady Jill Biden’s detail — an AR-15-style rifle.
The men were arrested earlier this month, and prosecutors argued that they should continue to be held in custody, “saying that Ali made multiple trips to the Middle East and had visas for Pakistan and Iran,” Fox reported.
But District of Columbia Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey released them to home confinement, saying they did not pose significant dangers to the community and that there was not enough evidence of ties to foreign intelligence, according to CBS News.
Federal prosecutors made “no showing that national security information was in fact compromised,” nor did they prove that “other sensitive information was in fact compromised, or that was the intention of the defendants when they gave the gifts in the first place,” Harvey said, as CNN reported.
According to Harvey, available evidence suggests the “the defendants’ impersonation of federal officers was, as Mr. Ali said in his (FBI) interview, that they ‘just wanted to feel on the same level’ as the real federal agents.”
The Secret Service, meanwhile, said in a statement that it is carrying out a “methodical review of all aspects of this incident.” At least four members of the agency were placed on administrative leave.