The two men arrested for posing as Department of Homeland Security agents attempted to ship evidence out of their apartment and enlist the help of a federal law enforcement agent after being tipped off to an investigation, according to a memo laying out additional evidence that prosecutors believe warrants detention without bail.
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 36, were taken into custody Wednesday. The men are being charged with impersonating DHS law enforcement agents in Washington, D.C. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Rothstein said additional charges of conspiracy could be lodged against the men.
The latest filing said Taherzadeh applied to be an armed special police officer, or SPO, and was denied in March 2019, due to his prior misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence. Taherzadeh later was permitted to obtain a commission as an unarmed SPO, but that expired when he did not provide documents in support of relicensing in December 2021.
Ali also applied for an SPO commission around October 2020, but was denied based on his prior arrests for assault of a family member and malicious wounding and abduction by force.
The FBI said in an affidavit that then both men, from as early as February 2020 until their arrest, allegedly pretended to be agents working for DHS, and that they carried insignias and firearms as part of that deception. The affidavit said the men did this “to ingratiate themselves with members of federal law enforcement and the defense community.”
Even if the men were licensed as SPOs, prosecutors argued their possession and use of weapons, ammunition, and other tools of law enforcement such as a dynamic entry kit “far exceed the scope of SPO licensure, further evidencing the lengths of their deception and demonstrating their dangerousness.”
Prosecutors said they interviewed a former U.S. Marine, who the pair attempted to recruit on the basis of their false DHS credentials. The unnamed witness alleged he observed illegal weapons in Taherzadeh and Ali’s presence, including an AR-15/M4 variant automatic rifle with an illegal suppressor and an AR pistol.
Neither of the men had a license to carry a firearm outside of their homes, the filing said. Law enforcement officials also recovered illegal high-capacity magazines.
After Taherzadeh was informed of the government’s investigation, prosecutors say that he and/or Ali tried to conceal evidence by shipping items out of their apartment complex. Law enforcement officials found UPS labels and shipping materials while carrying out their search, “which raised concern that evidence was being secreted from the premises.”
Prosecutors said their concerns proved to be true.
On Thursday, a United States Secret Service uniformed division officer received a package sent via UPS Next Day Air with a return label that corresponded to Ali and Taherzadeh’s apartment complex. Within the box were firearm cases; one firearm case contained three ammunition magazines. In addition, the package also contained a cigar case with four cigars.
“This is consistent with the prior pattern and practice of providing federal law enforcement agents with gifts and items of value, and suggests that Taherzadeh and/or Ali shipped the package to the USSS Uniformed Division Officer in an attempt to corruptly enlist him in secreting evidence,” the filing said.
Prosecutors alleged Friday that the men “compromised” Secret Service personnel assigned to protect first lady Jill Biden and the White House by “lavishing” them with gifts that included rent-free apartments.
— CNBC’s Dan Mangan contributed to this report.