WASHINGTON — A D.C. man has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a scheme in which he pretended to be a federal law enforcement officer for a number of purposes, including maintaining a series of apartments in which he failed to pay rent. He also admitted to carrying out a bank fraud scheme in which he obtained more than $1 million and used his false law enforcement credentials to pressure people recruited to the scheme.
Haider Ali, 36, pleaded guilty Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count each of conspiracy and bank fraud, as well as unlawful possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device. If found guilty, he could face between 5 to 7 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for late February 2023.
According to plea documents, Ali and a co-conspirator, Arian Taherzadeh, 40, also of 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, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
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 back in April. Taherzadeh pleaded guilty in August to a federal conspiracy offense and firearm offenses in D.C. A sentencing date for Taherzadeh has not been set.