Arian Taherzadeh, 40, pleaded guilty in US District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, to conspiracy and weapons charges. Federal prosecutors accuse him of posting as a law enforcement agent. Coffee or Die Magazine composite.
A Washington, DC, man at the heart of an ongoing corruption probe targeting the US Secret Service has confessed to impersonating a federal agent.
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, pleaded guilty on Monday, Aug. 1, to US District Judge Colleen Constance Kollar-Kotelly to conspiracy, unlawful possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device, and voyeurism. She hasn’t scheduled his sentencing hearing.
Taherzadeh's alleged co-conspirator, Haider Ali, has not changed his plea of not guilty.
Federal prosecutors say he and Taherzadeh concocted a private law enforcement, investigative, and protective service company that appeared to mirror US Homeland Security Investigations, complete with an arsenal of firearms, fake badges, and other police paraphernalia.
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, pleaded guilty in US District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, to a federal conspiracy charge, plus two weapons violations. Prosecutors say he posed as a federal law enforcement agent. US Department of Justice photos.
Like Ali, Taherzadeh remains in pretrial confinement. Taherzadeh's court-appointed attorney did not return Coffee or Die Magazine messages seeking comment.
Federal agents accuse Taherzadeh of providing members of the US Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security with rent-free luxury apartments, iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen TV, a rifle case, and a generator, gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In one case, he allegedly offered to buy a rifle for a Secret Service agent assigned to Jill Biden’s protective detail. In the wake of the probe, four members of the Secret Service have been placed on administrative leave.
In another, Taherzadeh and Ali are accused of recruiting an unnamed victim to become an “employee of DHS” and “serve on their task force,” a “recruitment process” that involved shooting the applicant with an airsoft rifle that shoots nonlethal pellets, to gauge pain tolerance, and turning the “applicant” into a sleuth conducting research on a contractor tied to the Pentagon and intelligence community.
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, to one count of conspiracy and two weapons charges. Investigators say he posed as a fake federal agent, complete with handcuffs, tools for breaching doors, and police paraphernalia. Coffee or Die Magazine composite photo.
The probe spun out of a separate US Postal Inspection Service investigation into the assault on a letter carrier at a DC apartment complex.
Witnesses told investigators that Taherzadeh and Ali were US Homeland Security Investigations agents who might’ve seen the assault.
According to federal court filings, Taherzadeh told the postal inspector that his enterprise — US Special Police Investigation Unit — was affiliated with the US Department of Homeland Security.
He also claimed to be deputized as “special police” by the District of Columbia, involved in undercover gang-busting probes and a deep investigation into the violence at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Residents said Taherzadeh drove around in an “official DHS” black sport utility vehicle and a Chevrolet Impala police cruiser pimped out with flashing lights. He walked around armed with a Glock 19 Gen5 pistol with a TLR-7A Streamlight attachment and carrying a dossier marked “CONFIDENTIAL” that targeted a person Taherzadeh announced he was “working on.”
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, pleaded guilty in US District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, to a federal conspiracy charge and two weapons violations. Investigators say they caught him with firearms he wasn't allowed to own and stacks of dossiers that might be tied to criminal cases. Coffee or Die Magazine composite.
One resident said that Taherzadeh’s office contained SWAT vests, a large safe, computers, a high-powered telescope, and surveillance cameras.
Due to a late 2013 misdemeanor domestic battery conviction, Taherzadeh wasn’t allowed to possess a firearm, according to a court filing.
The postal investigator quickly determined that Taherzadeh also had been providing gifts to multiple federal employees at the US Secret Service, the FBI, the Pentagon, and the US Navy, including rooms he apparently rented on their behalf.
He could reach all the flats easily because, as another witness pointed out, Taherzadeh had codes to the elevators that gave “him access to every floor, which is beyond what a normal resident possesses.”
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, to a federal conspiracy charge, plus two weapons violations. Federal agents seized firearms, brass knuckles, and ammunition from an apartment complex where he lived. Coffee or Die Magazine composite.
On April 6, federal agents raided the apartments Taherzadeh seemed to control throughout the complex.
In a penthouse flat, they found a Glock 19 9mm handgun loaded with 17 rounds of ammunition, including one in the chamber, seven rounds of .308-caliber ammunition, and a box filled with handgun ammo.
They uncovered a firearm barrel of an unknown caliber; weapon stock attachments; foregrips; pistol grips; a magazine; three airsoft pistols and a rifle; brass knuckles; a spotting scope for sniper teams; a gadget for counting currency; a machine to program Personal Identification Verification cards; police insignias and parking placard; zip ties; a latent fingerprint kit; door breaching equipment; and kit for picking locks.
On Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, Arian Taherzadeh, 40, pleaded guilty in US District Court for the District of Columbia to a federal conspiracy charge and a pair of weapons violations. Prosecutors say he wasn't supposed to possess firearms was captured on two videos firing weapons at a gun range. US Department of Justice photo.
There also were boxes of files apparently compiled on numerous people; federal police manuals; handcuffs; and a Sig Sauer P229 with five loaded magazines, containing a total of 61 rounds.
Agents also cataloged two videos showing Taherzadeh firing a pistol and rifle at a shooting range they suspect was located in northern Virginia.
Interrogated in the aftermath of the searches, Taherzadeh confessed he falsely identified himself as a US Army Ranger veteran and a current Department of Homeland Security employee, according to a court filing.
He also admitted to using an airsoft gun to shoot a witness, and began deleting evidence on his server after the visit from the postal inspector.
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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