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Man accused of impersonating Homeland Security agent pleads guilty

<i>Bill Hennessy</i><br/>Arian Taherzadeh is pictured in federal court in April.
Bill Hennessy
Arian Taherzadeh is pictured in federal court in April.

By Holmes Lybrand

Arian Taherzadeh, a Washington, DC man who impersonated a Department of Homeland Security agent while prosecutors say he ingratiated himself with federal agents through gifts and rent-free apartments, pleaded guilty on Monday and agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department.

The case, which put four Secret Service members on administrative leave and involved years of deception, according to court documents, continued to crystallize Monday as new charges and information were revealed during the plea hearing.

Taherzadeh, along with his co-defendant Haider Ali, were charged earlier this year with falsely impersonating federal officers and possessing illegal, large capacity ammo magazines. Both men were released on home incarceration in April. Ali has pleaded not guilty.

Taherzadeh was charged with conspiring to impersonate a federal law enforcement officer as well as possession of an illegal, large-capacity ammo magazine and filming individuals, without their consent, engaging in sexual activity. He pleaded guilty to the three charges and, as part of his plea, agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department in its investigation. He faces 37 to 46 months behind bars, according to sentencing guidelines.

Prosecutors alleged that Taherzadeh, Ali and a third, unnamed individual, duped federal agents, including members of the Secret Service, by ingratiating themselves with the agents by giving them gifts and rent-free apartments. One agent, who Taherzadeh offered to purchase an expensive rifle for, was on the first lady’s protective detail at the time, according to court documents.

The group never paid for the luxury apartments they rented in DC and were evicted from several buildings, racking up more than $800,000 in unpaid rent, fees and parking, according to prosecutors. Using fictitious individuals as their “supervisors,” Taherzadeh would tell the apartment buildings that the government would be paying their rent and blamed government bureaucracy and their fake bosses for unpaid bills, court documents say.

According to the plea agreement, which was read aloud during Monday’s hearing, Taherzadeh also worked to recruit other individuals to his fake Homeland Security Investigations force he said was under DHS.

Taherzadeh made up false acts of heroism as part of these efforts to recruit others and falsely claimed he had been an Army Ranger and an Air Marshal.

As part of the recruitment process, one individual was shot with an air rifle by Taherzadeh, who said on Monday that the two would shoot each other, adding that it was “something we did kind of as a drinking game.”

Taherzadeh also said that he set up a security camera in his bedroom and filmed women engaging in sexual activity without their consent, videos which he showed others. The men also used their fake personas to get access to security footage from the apartment they were living in, according to prosecutors.

Taherzadeh also has agreed to testify in any trial or grand jury related to his crimes as part of the plea deal and will appear before the court in November for a status update on his cooperation.

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