A fake DHS agent may have tricked another defendant with the Secret Service

Filing in the United States District Court in Washington, D.C. by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia

Courtesy of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia

One of the two men criminally charged with impersonating Department of Homeland Security agents may have himself been duped, along with several Secret Service agents, into believing his co-accused was in did a DHS agent, a defense attorney said in a court filing on Monday.

“The weight of evidence against Mr. [Haider] Ali is not strong,” Ali’s attorney wrote in the filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC.

“It is far from clear that Mr. Ali ever held himself out as a federal government official or employee, or that he knew such statements were false,” wrote the attorney, Gregory Smith.

Smith’s filing says a review of Ali’s multiple interviews with a U.S. postal inspector last month “suggests that Mr. Ali may well have naively but sincerely believed” that his co-defendant, Arian Taherzadeh, was a U.S. special agent. Homeland Security Investigations, “and that work he did for Taherzadeh’s Company (USSP) may have included work that company obtained from DHS.”

The filing of Ali, 35, preceded a detention hearing for Ali and Taherzadeh which is expected to resume in court later on Monday. The men were arrested last week.

Prosecutors want the two men, who remain in jail, to be held without bail, calling them a danger to the community.

But lawyers for the defendants asked a judge on Monday to release them on bail, saying prosecutors were exaggerating the seriousness of the case.

Ali’s lawyer said he had four very young children and “really needed to come home since his wife had surgery last Friday”.

The attorney also noted that even if Ali were convicted of the Class E felony he faces, federal sentencing guidelines would likely recommend a zero to six month prison term. He would also be eligible for a suspended sentence, the lawyer added.

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Prosecutors said that since the men’s arrest last week – amid allegations they lavished gifts on Secret Service agents and provided two such agents with free apartments that normally rent for up to 48,000 dollars a year – “the story only gets worse” as investigators show up. additional evidence.

“Due to the frantic pace of the investigation, there are many facts that we still don’t know.
know,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing on Sunday.

“But the facts we know about the defendants – that they lied about their identities for years, stored a cache of weapons and surveillance equipment in their apartments, compromised law enforcement officers at sensitive positions and attempted to cover up their crimes – leave There is no doubt that their release poses a risk to public safety. Both defendants must be detained.”

Secret Service agents who protected First Lady Jill Biden and the White House were among those fooled by the men’s alleged lies about being DHS agents.

The defendants also had passcodes allowing them to enter the hundreds of apartments in the Washington DC Navy Yard residential complex where they maintain five apartments, prosecutors said. Real law enforcement officers occupy a number of these apartments.

And prosecutors said Ali allegedly told witnesses in the case that he had ties to ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

Four Secret Service agents have been furloughed following the case.

Taherzadeh’s attorney, Michelle Peterson, in a bail filing on Monday, said, “Apart from speculative claims and rhetorical flourishes from the government, there is not enough evidence to show that Mr. Taherzadeh would either be a risk of obstruction of justice or a danger to the community if released.

“The government has failed to demonstrate that this is an offense punishable by detention at first instance or, even if it is, that there are no conditions of release which could reasonably keep the community safe,” Peterson wrote.

Law enforcement obtained two videos of Taherzadeh firing a handgun and an assault rifle at a shooting range believed to be in northern Virginia. In one video, Taherzadeh appears to be wearing a long-sleeved shirt with a USSS badge on the arm. A

Source: US Attorney | washington d.c.

The investigation into Ali and Taherzadeh, 40, began last month when a US postal inspector questioned them about an assault on a postman in their apartment building in Washington, which they allegedly witnessed.

The postal inspector had been informed that the men were DHS agents and were posing as agents to other residents.

During his first interview on March 16, Ali told the inspector, “I am an investigator with the USSP Special Investigations Unit, which is part of DHS,” Ali’s attorney wrote, Smith, in Monday’s court filing.

USSP is United States Special Police, a company owned by Taherzadeh. It is neither an official law enforcement agency nor part of the Department of Homeland Security.

In a follow-up interview on March 21, the inspector asked Ali if the USSP was part of DHS. He replied, “If I understand correctly. We are conducting surveys for DHS.”

After the inspector told him that the USSP was not part of DHS, Ali replied that “he spoke ‘to the best of my knowledge'”.

Later that day, Ali was asked why he described Taherzadeh as a special agent with the DHS Homeland Security Investigations Unit.

“He’s HSI,” Ali told the postal inspector.

When the inspector told Ali that Taherzadeh was not, in fact, an HSI agent, Ali replied, “I understand it’s the HSI. They do extensive investigations in DC.”

Attorney Smith wrote: “And why shouldn’t Mr. Ali have believed Taherzadeh?”

The attorney noted that prosecutors said “many experienced law enforcement officers … fell for this ruse.”

“If all these experienced federal agents, with their years, if not decades of experience, have not seen through Taherzadeh’s claims, why is it right to expect more from Mr. Ali, a high school graduate with no university degree and without any formal training?” Smith asked in the record.

Prosecutors in a filing on Sunday suggested more serious allegations against Ali and Taherzadeh could surface.

“Over the past day, the government has confirmed more troubling facts: the ammunition magazines seized from Ali’s Glock 19 and Taherzadeh’s Sig Sauer were illegal high-capacity magazines; and, after Taherzadeh was informed of the investigation, either he or Ali appears to have made further attempts to conceal evidence, including trying to enlist the assistance of a federal law enforcement officer,” the authorities wrote. prosecutors.

That file says a former U.S. Marine has come forward in recent days to tell investigators the duo tried to recruit him based on their fake DHS credentials. He also said he saw illegal weapons in the presence of Taherzadeh and Ali, including an AR-15/M4 variant automatic rifle with an illegal suppressor.

None of the men had a license to carry a firearm outside their homes, according to the filing.

Court records show that Tishman Speyer, the real estate giant that owns the apartment complex where the defendants maintained their five apartments, won a default judgment in January for more than $222,000 in unpaid rent for those five apartments. .

The default judgment was against United States Special Police, Taherzadeh’s company, which never paid rent for the apartments after renting them out in late 2020, a lawsuit said.

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