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Two Washington, D.C. men were arraigned on charges of false impersonation of a federal officer in a U.S. District Court on Thursday.
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35, were both arrested on Wednesday at a luxury apartment in the Navy Yard area of Washington, D.C.
During an arraignment hearing on Thursday, a judge approved Taherzadeh and Ali’s request for a court-appointed attorney after reviewing their financial affidavits. Ali said that “I don’t have any money” during his hearing.
The two men face up to three years in jail as well as a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted.
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Federal prosecutors said that the Federal Bureau of Investigations executed a search warrant on Wednesday for five apartment units and three vehicles in relation to this case, where multiple firearms, law enforcement equipment, servers, and hard drives were found. Department of Homeland Security and Naval Criminal Investigative Service training manuals were also found.
A detention hearing will take place on Friday for both men. Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey ordered the two men be held until the hearing on Friday.
A binder with a list of every resident at the apartment complex was also found, according to prosecutors.
While executing the search warrant, prosecutors say that Ali’s passport shows two Pakistani and Iranian visas. The federal prosecutors also allege that Ali told two witnesses that he has some type of connection with the Pakistani Intelligence Service, the Inter-Services Intelligence.
Ali allegedly made multiple trips to Doha, Qatar since 2019, according to prosecutors.
During Thursday’s hearing, prosecutors also alleged that Taherzadeh admitted to deleting social media accounts once he found out about the federal investigation.
Both men are currently U.S. citizens, according to the prosecutors.
The two men are accused of falsely posing as employees of the Department of Homeland Security who worked on a special task force related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Prosecutors allege that the individuals posed as law enforcement officers in an attempt to integrate with legitimate federal agents.
One of the people who was given gifts previously worked on the first lady’s security detail, according to federal prosecutors.
The prosecutors also allege that Taherzadeh and Ali obtained firearms, which include handguns and assault rifles that are used by federal law enforcement agencies.
Taherzadeh provided members of the U.S. Secret Service with rent-free apartments, iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen television, storage for an assault rifle, and more, prosecutors say.
The apartments provided by Taherzadeh had a value of over $40,000 per unit, and also offered Secret Service agents the use of “official government vehicles.”
Taherzadeh allegedly made an offer to purchase an assault rifle valued at $2,000 for a Secret Service agent who was assigned to the first lady’s security detail, according to prosecutors.
One Secret Service agent was provided with a rent-free three-bedroom apartment by Taherzadeh, valued at $48,240. The Secret Service agent stayed at the apartment from February 2021 to January 2022, according to prosecutors.
Four members of the Secret Service were placed on administrative leave as a result of the investigation.
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The plot by the two individuals began to come into question when a United States Postal Inspector arrived at their apartment complex to investigate an alleged assault which involved a United States Postal Service carrier, according to prosecutors.
The apartment complex’s residents told the inspector that the two men set up video surveillance throughout the apartment complex, and said they believe that they had access to personal information, and even said that the men claimed they could access their cell phones.
The men identified themselves as investigators with the U.S. Special Police Investigation Unit, which Ali said was part of the Department of Homeland Security, and said Taherzadeh was a Department of Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent.
The United States Postal Inspector gave this information to the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General, where it was then referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors allege that Taherzadeh identified himself as a Department of Homeland Security Investigations special agent to a Secret Service agent who’s currently assigned to the first lady’s protection detail, and Ali identified himself as a Homeland Security Investigations analyst.
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In an attempt to prove he was an employee of the Department of Homeland Security, Taherzadeh took a picture of himself in a Department of Homeland Security Investigations “vest.” The Secret Service agent also allegedly saw multiple pictures of Taherzadeh in police tactical gear, according to prosecutors.
Taherzadeh also allegedly texted the Secret Service agent a picture which he said was purportedly from a training, but was actually pulled from a Department of Homeland Security social media post.
Another witness, who’s also a member of the Secret Service, said that Taherzadeh has access to “all floors of the apartment,” including some restricted areas. The witness says that he was able to get this access by speaking with the apartment complex’s management and identifying himself as a federal agent.
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Taherzadeh allegedly controls a limited liability company titled “United Special Police LLC,” which is described as a private law enforcement, investigative, and protective service based in Washington, D.C.