Washington, DC – Four U.S. Secret Service agents have been placed on leave following allegations they received gifts from two men the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) just arrested for posing as federal agents.
Authorities said that 40-year-old Arian Taherzadeh and 36-year-old Haider Ali posed as U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and claimed to be working on a special task force that was investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, WTOP reported.
Investigators said that Taherzadeh and Ali lived at a Navy Yard apartment building in the 900-block of First Street, SE, and ingratiated themselves with Secret Service agents by showering them with gifts and free housing, the Daily Mail reported.
The Secret Service agents who received gifts included a member of First Lady Jill Biden’s protective detail.
The arrest affidavit said Taherzadeh and Ali provided rent-free apartments valued at $40,000 each annually to a DHS employee and Secret Service agents, CNN reported.
Court documents showed that Taherzadeh allegedly provided a Secret Service agent who was assigned to the White House complex protection detail a “rent-free penthouse apartment” for one year at a cost of about $40,200.
Another uniformed Secret Service member assigned to the White House allegedly lived in a three-bedroom apartment valued at $48,240 that Taherzadeh paid for from from February 2021 to January 2022, The Washington Post reported.
The affidavit also said that Taherzadeh bought a $2,000 semi-automatic rifle for a member of the First Lady’s protection detail, according to CNN.
He also gave federal agents “iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen television, a case for storing an assault rifle, a generator, and law enforcement paraphernalia,” according to the affidavit.
The investigation began after the men’s scheme was uncovered by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service during a probe into an attack on a mail carrier at the apartment building, WTOP reported.
The men claimed to be members of a nonexistent U.S. Special Police Investigation Unit that they said fell under Homeland Security.
Other residents of the apartment building told the postal inspector that Taherzadeh and Ali had several apartments in the building and claimed DHS paid the rent, The Washington Post reported.
It was unclear where the men got the money to pay for everything they gave to the Secret Service members.
Witnesses said Taherzadeh and Ali drove around in an SUV equipped with emergency lights the men called “their official DHS vehicle.”
They reported seeing “a significant amount of law enforcement paraphernalia, including SWAT vests, a large safe, computers, a high-powered telescope and internal surveillance cameras in [Taherzadeh’s] apartment,” The Washington Post reported.
The postal inspector learned that Taherzadeh and Ali had made friends with several members of the Secret Service and had given them gifts and let them drive their SUV.
The complaint said that they loaned the SUV to a Secret Service agent’s wife at one point, the Daily Mail reported.
The postal inspector notified DHS and DHS alerted the FBI, The Washington Post reported.
Investigators have not said what motive the men may have had for ingratiating themselves with the federal agents.
Charging documents for Taherzadeh and Ali said that four U.S. Secret Service members had been placed on paid administrative leave on April 4, The Washington Post reported.
The Secret Service said the suspended personnel had been blocked from accessing facilities, systems, and equipment belonging to the federal agency while the investigation is conducted.
Taherzadeh and Ali were scheduled to appear in U.S District Court on Thursday, The Washington Post reported.
Both men have been charged with impersonating federal law enforcement and obtaining handguns, rifles, and other materials to pose as DHS officers, according to the Daily Mail.