Thursday, May 12 2022

WASHINGTON –Two men accused of impersonating federal agents and offering free gifts and apartments to Secret Service agents have been indicted by a federal grand jury, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali have been charged in Washington with impersonating a federal officer and possessing a high capacity munitions device.

The case was thrust into the public spotlight earlier this month when more than a dozen FBI agents raided a luxury apartment building in southwest Washington. Prosecutors said the pair deceived real Secret Service agents and gave them expensive apartments and gifts in a bid to “pamper themselves” and fit in with law enforcement agents, including including an agent tasked with protecting the first lady.

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During the search, authorities found body armor, gas masks, zip ties, handcuffs, door-breaking equipment, drones, radios and police training manuals in five building apartments. Both men had surveillance equipment and a high-powered telescope, and the FBI found evidence they could have created surveillance devices, prosecutors said. The FBI also found several firearms — including handguns and ammunition — and disassembled rifle parts and sniper scopes, prosecutors said.

Officers also found a filing cabinet containing information on all residents of the luxury building, which houses law enforcement officers, defense officials and members of Congress, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors allege Taherzadeh and Ali falsely claimed to work for the Department of Homeland Security and work on a special task force investigating gangs and violence related to the Jan. 6 uprising on the U.S. Capitol.

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Taherzadeh is accused of providing Secret Service officers and agents with free apartments – including a penthouse worth more than $40,000 a year – as well as iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a TV , a generator, a gun case and other police tools, according to court documents. In one case, Taherzadeh offered to buy a $2,000 assault rifle from a Secret Service agent tasked with protecting the first lady, prosecutors said.

The plot unfolded when the United States Postal Inspection Service began investigating an assault involving a postman in the building and the men identified themselves as part of a fake security unit. interior they called the US Police Special Investigative Unit.

Taherzadeh’s attorney, Michelle Peterson, argued he had no intention of compromising the agents and provided the luxury apartments and lavish gifts because he wanted to be friends with them.

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She said her client had previously been licensed in Washington as an unarmed special police officer – a private guard to protect people or property – and was also a licensed private investigator. In a lengthy interview with investigators after his arrest, Taherzadeh said he made “an embarrassing misrepresentation that got out of control”.

Ali’s attorney, Greg Smith, argued that his client did not know Taherzadeh was lying about a connection to Homeland Security and honestly believed he was working for the government.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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