A second man accused this year of impersonating Department of Homeland Security officers in Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to impersonate a federal officer, bank fraud and other charges.
Haider Ali's co-defendant, Arian Taherzadeh, pleaded guilty in August.
Prosecutors had charged that the pair 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." Court filings showed that four Secret Service agents were placed on leave as a result of their interactions with the duo, one of whom was assigned to first lady Jill Biden.
Ali, 36, pleaded guilty to all of charges against him. The charges indicate that he and Taherzadeh were using the agents as part of a complex moneymaking scheme, not to gain access to national secrets.
"It was a purpose of the conspiracy for Ali to ingratiate himself with members of federal law enforcement and the defense community," as well as "to enrich himself by obtaining property by fraudulent pretenses including through a false affiliation with the federal law enforcement community," according to a court filing outlining the scheme that Ali admitted to.
Part of the scam included conning their way into multiple apartments and parking spaces at a Washington apartment complex while reassuring the landlord the federal government would pick up the tab. Federal prosecutors said the pair were also "lavishing gifts" on Secret Service agents, including "rent-free living."
In court Wednesday, Ali maintained that he had been tricked, as well. 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 become aware of the scam until the end of last year, after he had moved his family into one of the apartments fraudulently obtained by Taherzadeh.
Ali also admitted to participating in a yearslong $1.6 million bank fraud scheme that involved opening bank accounts in the names of straw businesses, charging purchases at other businesses controlled by Ali to debit cards linked to those bank accounts, withdrawing the money in the accounts while the debit charges were still pending and simultaneously withdrawing the profits from the businesses that had charged the debit cards, according to court records.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, 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 Feb. 24.
In his guilty plea, Taherzadeh admitted to the same conspiracy charge, as well as a voyeurism charge for secretly recording women having sex in his apartment. He "showed these explicit videos to third parties," according to court documents. He is awaiting sentencing.
A spokesman for the Secret Service declined to comment on the investigation into its agents, citing its ongoing nature.