A second man accused of impersonating Department of Homeland Security officers in Washington, D.C. pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges including conspiring to impersonate a federal officer and bank fraud.
Haider Ali's co-defendant in the case, Arian Taherzadeh, pleaded guilty in August.
Prosecutors had charged that the couple managed to convince Secret Service agents assigned to the White House that they were legitimate DHS agents with their impersonation scheme and labeled them a risk to national security. Four Secret Service agents were placed on leave as a result of their interactions with the duo, including one assigned to first lady Jill Biden, according to court filings in the case.
Ali, 36, pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him. He and Taherzadeh were using agents as part of a complex money-making scheme, not to gain access to national secrets, according to the charges.
According to a court filing, Ali admitted to obtaining property by false affiliation with the federal law enforcement community, as well as to ingratiate himself with members of the federal law enforcement and the defense community.
Part of the scam included conning their way into multiple apartments and parking spaces at a D.C. apartment complex while assuring the landlord the federal government would pick up the tab. Federal prosecutors said the couple lavished gifts on Secret Service agents, including rent-free living. In court Wednesday, Ali maintained that he had been tricked. He told U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that when he first started working with Taherzadeh, he believed that Taherzadeh's company, United States Special Police, was legitimately affiliated with DHS. He said he didn't know about the scam until the end of 2021, after he moved his family into one of the apartments fraudulently obtained by Taherzadeh.
Ali also admitted to being involved in a years-long $1.6 million bank fraud scheme that involved opening bank accounts in the name of straw businesses, charging purchases at other businesses that are controlled by Ali to debit cards linked to those accounts, withdrawing the money in the accounts while the debit charges were still pending, and simultaneously withdrawing the profits from businesses that had charged the debit cards, according to court records.
Under the terms of his plea agreement with the government, Ali agreed to seek a prison sentence of between 63 and 78 months, but the judge could go below or above the recommended sentence when Ali is sentenced on February 24 of next year.
Taherzadeh admitted to a conspiracy charge, as well as a voyeurism charge for secretly recording women having sex inside of his apartment. According to court documents, he showed these explicit videos to third parties. A spokesman for the Secret Service wouldn't give any comment on the status of the investigation into its agents, citing its ongoing nature.