A Second Guilty Plea in the Case of Impersonating DHS Officials
Haider Ali pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, bank fraud and unlawful possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device.
A second man has pleaded guilty to charges resulting from impersonating federal law enforcement officials.
In April, Haider Ali and Arian Taherzadeh, were arrested for impersonating Homeland Security agents for over two years. Both initially pleaded not guilty, but now both have reversed their pleas. On Wednesday, Ali pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of both bank fraud and conspiracy, which are both federal offenses, as well as unlawful possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device, which is a District of Columbia offense.
“As the scheme unfolded, Ali falsely claimed at various times that he was a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and/or the U.S. Secret Service. He also falsely claimed that he participated in the capture of the wife of Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, that his family had a royal bloodline, and that he had a connection to a senior official in the Pakistani Intelligence Service,” said the Justice Department in a press release. “Taherzadeh, meanwhile, falsely claimed to be, among other things, a Special Agent with the Department of Homeland Security, a member of a multi-jurisdictional federal task force, a former United States Air Marshal, and a former Army Ranger.”
Ali and Taherzadeh used their false claims to try to recruit others to join their “task force” or “unit,” which these people thought was part of the federal government. “In furtherance of the scheme, Ali and Taherzadeh integrated themselves with employees of the U.S. Secret Service because it provided them with cover and aided in their scheme.”
Additionally, the men used their fake law enforcement identities and their business, the “United States Special Police LLC,” to maintain apartment leases and parking spaces for their alleged law enforcement work at a luxury apartment complex in Southeast Washington.
In a penthouse they possessed, there was “a Glock handgun registered to Ali that was loaded with a large-capacity ammunition feeding device, surveillance equipment, law enforcement tactical gear and a machine capable of programming Personal Identification Verification cards used to create false credentials,” DOJ stated. “They also used their false identification with law enforcement to obtain security footage in the building as well as a list of the building’s residents as well as their apartment numbers and contact information.” They didn’t pay any rent for the apartments or garage space, which led to $306,987 in losses for the building and $7,854 for the garage.
Additionally, starting as early as May 2017 and going until at least May 2021, Ali was engaged in a bank fraud scheme during which “he generated more than $1 million in gross receipts from one or more financial institutions” by using bank accounts he and others had to fraudulently make debit and credit card transactions.
The defense and prosecution stated jointly they’ll recommend a prison sentence of 63 to 78 months. The sentencing hearing was scheduled for Feb. 24, 2023.
“The charges indicate that he and Taherzadeh were using the agents as part of a complex money-making scheme, not to gain access to national secrets,” NBC News reported. “In court Wednesday, Ali maintained that he had been tricked, as well,” saying “he didn’t become aware of the scam until the end of last year, after he had moved his family into one of the apartments fraudulently obtained by Taherzadeh.”
Taherzadeh pleaded guilty in August to a federal conspiracy offense and two District of Columbia offenses: unlawful possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device and voyeurism.
As outlined in the initial complaint, Ali and Taherzadeh integrated themselves with the federal law enforcement community and provided members of the Secret Service and a DHS employee with rent-free apartments, technology and other paraphernalia. As a result, four Secret Service agents were put on administrative leave, pending further investigation.
When asked for comment on the status of the investigation, the Secret Service told Government Executive they could not comment on ongoing administrative matters.
About a month after the men were arrested, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced legislation that would better protect the DHS seal from misappropriation and exploitation.
His committee’s voted favorably to further it to the full House, which has not taken it up yet. There is not a companion version in the Senate at this time.