Two Men Accused of Impersonating Federal Agents Indicted on Federal Charges

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
April 19, 2022Updated: April 19, 2022

Two men accused of impersonating federal agents have been indicted on multiple counts by a federal grand jury.

Haider Ali, 35, and Arian Taherzadeh, 40, were indicted in Washington on false impersonation of an officer or federal employee and unlawful possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device.

The pair were arrested on April 6 on charges of impersonating federal law enforcement—by identifying themselves as Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigations special agents, according to court documents.

The case made headlines earlier this month when more than a dozen FBI agents raided a luxury apartment building in southwest Washington. Prosecutors said the two had tricked actual Secret Service officers and offered them expensive apartments and gifts in an effort to “ingratiate” themselves and integrate with law enforcement agents, including an agent assigned to protect the first lady.

Federal authorities accused the pair of obtaining police weapons and surveillance equipment to pose as federal employees. During the raid, authorities found body armor, gas masks, zip ties, handcuffs, equipment to break through doors, drones, radios, and police training manuals in five apartments in the building.

Several firearms, including handguns and ammunition, and disassembled rifle pieces and sniper scopes were also found by authorities during the search, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the FBI found evidence that they may have been creating surveillance devices.

The pair are accused of claiming to work for the DHS and for working on a special task force investigating gangs and violence connected to the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol building, and giving members of the Secret Service rent-free apartments, iPhones, a drone, other policing tools, and more, court documents state.

An investigation began on March 14 when Taherzadeh and Ali identified themselves as being part of a phony DHS unit they called the U.S. Special Police Investigation Unit, as the U.S. Postal Inspection Service began probing an unrelated complaint of an assault at the apartment building.

The apartment building is known to house many people who work for federal agencies.

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

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 detective. In an extensive interview with investigators after his arrest, Taherzadeh said he had made “an embarrassing misrepresentation that got out of control.”

Ali’s lawyer, Greg Smith, has argued his client didn’t know Taherzadeh was lying about a connection to Homeland Security and genuinely believed he was working on behalf of the government.

Authorities haven’t yet elaborated on a possible motive.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.