Prosecutors: White House Secret Service staff ‘compromised’ by men impersonating DHS agents

April 11, 2022

Two men charged with impersonating Department of Homeland Security agents “compromised” the Secret Service staff assigned to protect First Lady Jill Biden and the White House by “lavishing” them with gifts that included rent-free apartments, federal prosecutors said on Friday, April 8, as they asked a judge to hold the duo without bail.

One of the men, Arian Taherzadeh, admitted after his arrest that he had impersonated a DHS agent and had falsely identified himself to others as a former U.S. Army Ranger, prosecutors wrote in a filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C, in advance of their detention hearing there Friday afternoon, reports CNBC.

Taherzadeh, 40, also told authorities that his co-defendant in the case, 35-year-old Hader Ali, “funded most of their day-to-day operations but Taherzadeh did not know the source of the funds,” the filing says.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said that the mens’ impersonation of Department of Homeland Security agents went on “for years.” Both men, who are U.S. citizens, “pose a danger to the community based on their use and possession of firearms and other weaponry in furtherance of their impersonation of federal law enforcement officers,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.

The filing also says that Ali’s travel in past years to Iran; Pakistan; and Doha, Qatar—as well as his claims to have connections to Pakistan’s intelligence agency —make him a flight risk. “Ali obtained two 90-day visas from Iran and traveled there twice, not long before the charged activity began as early as February 2020,” prosecutors wrote.

And the filing notes that Taherzadeh in February 2020 applied for a concealed weapons permit, but “was denied due to his prior history of violence and instability”—which included two cases in which he was charged in 2013 with assaulting two different women, his wife and his girlfriend.

That filing contains photos of handguns, ammunition, body armor brass knuckles, a fingerprint kit, lock picking tools, and a box of documents with profiles of various people that were seized Wednesday at the men’s apartments in a building in Southeast Washington.

“In one document, an invoice for the defendants’ Chevrolet Impala, the customer information is listed as ‘Secret Service US’ with fake and fictitious names, such as the ‘authorizer name’ listed as ‘Fay Tate’ and the ‘driver name’ listed as ‘James Haider,’ an obvious variation on Haider Ali,” the filing says.

Prosecutors say that while they were claiming to be law enforcement agents involved in covert operations for DHS, “they compromised United States Secret Service (USSS) personnel involved in protective details and with access to the White House complex by lavishing gifts upon them, including rent-free living.”

The defendants maintained five apartments in the complex, two of which they lived in.

“Neither Defendant is even employed by the United States government,” prosecutors wrote. “But their impersonation scheme was sufficiently realistic to convince other government employees, including law enforcement agents, of their false identities.”

Four Secret Service personnel have been placed on leave as a result of the case.

The Secret Service has not said if any of the agents who were placed on leave was one agent assigned to Jill Biden’s protective detail, who was identified in a criminal complaint as being offered an AR-15-style assault rifle valued at $2,000 by Taherzadeh, and who lived below him in the same building.

Research contact: @CNBC