FBI officials arrested two men in D.C. who are accused of impersonating federal agents for the past two years while giving expensive gifts to Secret Service agents they befriended.
Arian Taherzadeh, 40 and Haider Ali, 36, were taken into custody at their residences in the Navy Yard neighborhood around 5 p.m. Wednesday. Neighbors who live inside the building on First Street near I Street in Southeast, said they saw FBI agents removing boxes from several apartments in the building.
The criminal complaint said the two gave lavish gifts to the friends they made, many of them federal agents, including a Secret Service agent assigned to protect first lady Jill Biden.
Prosecutors said Taherzadeh and Ali had falsely claimed to work for the Department of Homeland Security and work on a special task force investigating gang and violence connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol; they also posed as law enforcement officers to integrate with actual federal agents, The Associated Press reported.
The pair paid the $40,000 rent on one of the building’s penthouse apartments, which was occupied by a U.S. Secret Service Agent for nearly a year. Prosecutors said four Secret Service employees were placed on leave earlier this week as part of the investigation.
“All personnel involved in this matter are on administrative leave and are restricted from accessing Secret Service facilities, equipment, and systems,” said the Secret Service in a statement Thursday.
The complaint also said the apartments used by Taherzadeh and Ali contained law enforcement gear, including tactical equipment, computers and surveillance cameras.
Their scheme was uncovered during a U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigation into an assault on a mail carrier at the apartment building — the two men said they were part of a phony Homeland Security unit they called the U.S. Special Police Investigation Unit, The Associated Press reported.
Authorities did not detail what, if anything, the men were aiming to accomplish by posing as law enforcement officers or by providing the gifts. Prosecutors said the investigation remains ongoing.
The two are expected to appear in U.S. District Court Thursday on a federal charge of impersonating an officer of the United States.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.