Two men accused of impersonating federal agents and offering free apartments and gifts to Secret Service employees have pleaded not guilty. Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali are charged with false impersonation of an officer or employee of the U.S. and unlawful possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device.

The two appeared virtually before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, as they had previously been released to home confinement as they await trial.

Prosecutors on Tuesday said they are asking for a protective order in the case to avoid the release of personal identifying information contained in evidence. The evidence includes thousands of documents and pictures and 79 digital devices containing 80 terabytes of data recovered from a raid conducted earlier this month, the government said.

Prosecutors said a grand jury investigation is ongoing.

Taherzadeh, 40, and Ali, 35, were arrested by FBI agents earlier in April. The FBI accused the two men of impersonating various government officials, including members of several law enforcement agencies, since February 2020.    

The two men are accused of obtaining paraphernalia, handguns and assault rifles used by federal law enforcement agencies and falsely claiming to be members of these agencies. The FBI claimed they used their false associations with the U.S. government “to ingratiate themselves with members of federal law enforcement and the defense community.”  

The FBI claims that Taherzadeh, while allegedly pretending to be a member of the Department of Homeland Security, provided U.S. Secret Service members and a DHS employee with rent-free apartments and goods such as iPhones, a case for storing an assault rifle and surveillance systems.

Four Secret Service employees have been suspended after allegedly being duped by Taherzadeh and Ali. Two of the four suspended officials are agents, and two are uniformed division officers.  

An FBI affidavit filed in federal court includes photos Arian Taherzadeh sent a witness in the case, showing Taherzadeh with police gear in his apartment, including cases often used to carry firearms.

U.S. Department of Justice

According to U.S. officials, Secret Service personnel were put up in a luxury apartment building in Southwest D.C., near where the suspects lived. They have since moved out, posing a challenge to investigators seeking to determine if their walls were bugged. The FBI has taken custody of all electronic materials and evidence related to this case, U.S. officials said. 

Tahzerzadeh also allegedly tried to sell a gun to one of the Secret Service personnel, who was assigned to first lady Jill Biden’s detail.

In a statement, the Secret Service previously said it is taking this incident “extremely seriously,” working with federal authorities and conducting its own review.

“Although this is an ongoing investigation, we have found no evidence of any adverse security impacts or improper access to sensitive information, systems or protected locations at this time,” the statement said.

While searching the apartments, investigators also recovered Ali’s passport containing three “older” Pakistani visas and two Iranian visas from 2019 and January 2020, prosecutors said. There was an indication on his Iranian visa that he had entered that country at some point, prosecutors said, although they did not specify when. 

Ali had been under investigation by HSI’s Newark office and the U.S. Postal Service for fraudulent activity stemming from an alleged credit card ring scheme, according to two law enforcement sources. The status of that investigation remains unclear.

Sophie Reardon, Jordan Freiman and Sara Cooke contributed reporting.