- In 2022, two DC men were arrested in a scheme to impersonate federal officials.
- Fraudsters duped four Secret Service agents and gave them gifts.
- Here’s an update on the four agents, two of whom are still in the Secret Service.
It was a crazy story: a pair of crooks spent two years convincingly posing as federal cops, posing for photos in tactical gear, stockpiling guns and ammunition, and matching them in black SUVs with flashing emergency lights in Washington.
Shockingly, prosecutors also alleged that the two men gifted luxury apartments, flat-screen TVs and iPhones, and at one point offered a $2,000 assault rifle to someone assigned to protect First Lady Jill Biden.
Both imposters, who were arrested two years ago, have since pleaded guilty to weapons charges and impersonating federal law enforcement. One of them, 36-year-old Haider Sher Ali, is serving a 5-year prison sentence. The other, 42-year-old Arian Eugene Taherzadeh, the organizer of the conspiracy, will soon begin his nearly three-year sentence, his lawyer told Business Insider.
And what happened to the four Secret Service agents they tricked?
All four were immediately placed on administrative leave when the arrests began and all received some form of discipline, a spokesperson told BI recently.
Donald J. Mihalek, executive vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Employees Association Foundation, said an agent was “terminated.”
Another agent resigned. But the other two are still working as Secret Service agents “after discipline,” Mihalek said.
Mihalek declined to name the agents or elaborate on their working conditions. “This was not a criminal case, but an internal disciplinary process.
Mihalek stressed that none of the four agents faced criminal charges.
“There was never a quid-pro-quo,” he said.
“These guys claiming to be federal cops, I hate to say it, were just glorifying police enthusiasts,” he said.
The enthusiasts gave gifts to Secret Service agents — a total of $90,000, prosecutors said — not for any nefarious purpose, but “They just wanted to cover themselves and get into the lifestyle,” he said.
“Their cars were covered in lights, they bought all the fake clothes you need,” Ali and Taherzadeh said.
“They even took their cars to the same service stations used by federal law enforcement,” Mihalek added.
“But ‘Hey, can you get us inside the White House?’ there was no,” he said. “Or even ‘Can you give us an autographed photo of Joe Biden?’
Free cars and apartments
In 2019, that is, the beginning of 2022, when their confusion began, that is, when they were arrested, Ali and Taherzade told tall tales.
At various points, Taherzadeh claimed to be a former Army Ranger and Air Marshal who was killed in the line of duty, according to court documents. Ali claimed that he helped capture El Chapo’s wife, that he was a Middle Eastern kingpin, and that he was once a Calvin Klein model.
All these boasts turned out to be laughable lies. But the pair’s ability to fool four Secret Service agents was no laughing matter.
The top agent involved in the standoff is referred to in court documents as “USSS Employee 1.” He was a special agent on Jill Biden’s detail. According to Taherzadeh’s guilty plea, Taherzadeh tricked him into believing he was working for National Security Investigations.
According to allegations, Taherzadeh gave this agent’s wife a car he falsely claimed to be a “state car” for free. Taherzadeh also provided this senior agent and his wife with a “generator” and a “doomsday/survival bag.”
The assault rifle takes the cake though.
“The Special Agent assigned to protect the First Lady of the United States offered to purchase and provide USSS Employee 1 with an AR-15 rifle valued at approximately $2,000,” Taherzadeh said.
“In addition to his efforts to impersonate DHS personnel, Taherzadeh sent a USSS employee 1 photo in law enforcement uniform,” including photos of him wearing a tactical vest and law enforcement equipment in the background, according to a lawsuit.
The second and third Secret Service agents to be snookered — USSS Employee 2 and USSS Employee 3, according to court documents — received more lucrative gifts.
The two agents worked for the agency’s Uniformed Division, which protects White House grounds and foreign mission facilities in DC.
Both believed Taherzadeh worked for DHS, and the USSS 2 employee later believed he was working undercover for a “gang” at National Security Investigations, Taherzadeh’s lawsuit said.
Taherzadeh provided USSS Employee 2 with “a penthouse apartment worth approximately $40,200, rent-free for approximately one year, as well as an iPhone, HSI coin, and a DHS patch.”
USSS Employee 3, another Uniformed Division agent, received a rent-free apartment valued at $48,240, “as well as an iPhone, drone, gun locker and Pelican case.”
Fake feds were tracking real feds via GPS
According to prosecutors, Taherzadeh and USSS employees 1, 2 and 3 were on the same Apple family plan, which allowed them to track the GPS location of the three.
Court documents do not say whether Taherzadeh was able to track the location of Agent 1, a special agent on Jill Biden’s detail, during work hours. But at least one of the other Secret Service agents tracked him down while he was on the job.
Even without a quid-pro-quo, ‘optics are bad’
“He did not act to influence anyone, but out of a desire for friendship,” Taharzade’s lawyer said in his statement before the verdict.
“He never asked for anything from the officers he befriended, never gave anything to gain anything in return, and he deeply regrets the damage these officers caused to his reputation and career,” the lawyer wrote.
Regardless, it looks bad, former Secret Service agents told Business Insider.
“Even if there’s no quid pro quo, the optics are bad,” said Joseph Funk, a former Secret Service agent and now senior vice president of security consulting firm TorchStone Global.
“If the agent has a rich uncle or longtime neighbor who works at Rolex, and they get you a lot of watches, that’s one thing,” Funk said.
“But in this case, they were receiving gifts from people with no historical background. “It was just someone they had a conversation with,” he said.
It’s easy to be fooled – it’s not just two years
Bill Pickle, a former Secret Service agent, told BI that it’s not that hard to be fooled by a rogue cop, at least at first.
“If I’m at a sporting event or a bar and someone introduces me to someone and says, ‘He’s a Homeland Security agent,’ I might look at the guy and ask him a few questions,” he said.
Added Pickle, a former special agent in charge of Al Gore’s vice presidential detail, “But if he looked the part and acted the part and said all the right things, I would never have said, ‘Let’s see your credentials.’
“I can see how that happens,” Pickle said, at least initially.
“But I remember when this happened, I think there were lots and lots and lots of enthusiasts out there pretending to be federal officials or police.”