Virginia man who impersonated federal agent sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison

A man who impersonated federal agents in a fraud conspiracy scheme in the nation's capital was sentenced to nearly six years in prison.

Haider Ali, 36, of Springfield, Virginia, pleaded guilty last year to charges stemming from the ploy in which he pretended to be a federal law enforcement officer for a range of purposes, including to secure apartments which he then failed to pay rent for. He was sentenced Tuesday to 68 months behind bars.

The plan bilked more than $750,000 from his victims.

According to court documents, Ali and a co-conspirator, Arian Taherzadeh, 40, also of Washington, D.C., operated a business called United States Special Police LLC (USSP). The company was described as a private law enforcement, investigative, and protective service based in D.C. that claimed to be part of Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The documents say both men used the false claims to recruit others to join their "task force" or "unit," and they even ingratiated themselves with employees of the U.S. Secret Service to help further the scheme.

Despite the claim, the two men's company was not associated in any way with the United States government or the District of Columbia.

As the scheme unfolded between December 2018 and April 2022, Ali falsely claimed at various times that he was a member of the DHS 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.

Court documents say both 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, D.C.

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 and their personal information.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered 36 months of supervised release and restitution of $757,922.66.

"Deceptions like this do grave damage to the actual agents and officers who are on the street, dealing with the public whose trust is critical to their safety and success," said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves. "Fortunately, our law enforcement partners moved quickly to stop this defendant, expose his scam, and uncover his million-dollar bank fraud. As this sentence shows, impersonating a member of law enforcement is a serious offense. Those who pretend for the sake of exerting unlawful authority over the public, or for their own financial gain, will face significant consequences."

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. Taherzadeh is scheduled to be sentenced on December 1, 2023.

Officials say Ali was ordered remanded to begin his sentence effective immediately.