D.C. Man Pleads Guilty to Carrying Out Conspiracy to Impersonate Federal Law Enforcement Officer
Defendant Admits Using Ruse to Defraud Apartment Complex of Rent, and to Carrying Out Separate Bank Fraud Scheme
WASHINGTON – A District of Columbia man pleaded guilty today to charges stemming from a scheme in which he pretended to be a federal law enforcement officer for a range of purposes, including to maintain a series of apartments in which he then failed to pay rent. He also admitted carrying out a bank fraud scheme in which he obtained more than $1 million and used his false law enforcement credentials to pressure individuals recruited to the scheme.
Haider Ali, 36, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a superseding information charging him with one count each of conspiracy and bank fraud, both federal offenses, and unlawful possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device, a District of Columbia offense. In the plea agreement, the parties stated that they will jointly recommend a prison sentence of 63 to 78 months. The Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly scheduled sentencing for Feb. 24, 2023.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division, Dr. Joseph V. Cuffari, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Damon E. Wood, Inspector in Charge, Washington Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
According to plea documents, Ali and a co-conspirator, Arian Taherzadeh, 40, also of Washington, D.C., operated a business called United States Special Police LLC (USSP), which was described as a private law enforcement, investigative, and protective service based in Washington. The two men represented themselves to law enforcement as investigators and/or special agents and that their unit was part of Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The company was not associated in any way with the United States government or the District of Columbia and had never done business with the federal or D.C. governments.
As the scheme unfolded, Ali falsely claimed at various times that he was a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and/or the U.S. Secret Service. He also falsely claimed that he participated in the capture of the wife of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, that his family had a royal bloodline, and that he had a connection to a senior official in the Pakistani Intelligence Service. Taherzadeh, meanwhile, falsely claimed to be, among other things, a Special Agent with the Department of Homeland Security, a member of a multi-jurisdictional federal task force, a former United States Air Marshal, and a former Army Ranger.
Both men used these false claims to recruit others to join their “task force” or “unit,” which these individuals believed to be part of DHS and federal law enforcement. In furtherance of the scheme, Ali and Taherzadeh ingratiated themselves with employees of the U.S. Secret Service because it provided them with cover and aided in their scheme.
Ali and Taherzadeh used their assumed law enforcement personas and the business to maintain leases for multiple apartments and parking spaces for a supposed law enforcement operation at a luxury apartment complex in Southeast Washington. These units included a penthouse where Ali and Taherzadeh possessed, among other things, a Glock handgun registered to Ali that was loaded with a large-capacity ammunition feeding device, surveillance equipment, law enforcement tactical gear and a machine capable of programming Personal Identification Verification (PIV) cards used to create false credentials. They also used their false identification with law enforcement to obtain security footage in the building as well as a list of the building’s residents as well as their apartment numbers and contact information.
Throughout their tenancy, no rent was paid on the leased apartments or parking garage. This resulted in a loss to the building of $306,987 and to the garage of $7,854.
Additionally, according to the plea documents, beginning as early as May 2017 and continuing through March 2021, Ali engaged in a bank fraud scheme in which he generated more than $1 million in gross receipts from one or more financial institutions. He used bank accounts that he and others maintained and controlled to falsely and fraudulently execute debit and credit card transactions.
Ali and Taherzadeh were arrested on April 6, 2022. Taherzadeh pleaded guilty on Aug. 1, 2022, to a federal conspiracy offense and two District of Columbia offenses: unlawful possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device and voyeurism. A sentencing date for Taherzadeh has not yet been set.
This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth Aloi and Joshua S. Rothstein of the Fraud, Public Corruption, and Civil Rights Section.
Valuable assistance has been provided by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Tortorice and Paralegal Specialists Quiana Dunn-Gordon, and Lisa Abbe and former Paralegal Specialist Chad Byron of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and Trial Attorneys Kathleen Campbell and Evan Turgeon of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.