It’s still not certain what the D.C. duo accused of impersonating federal agents was up to, but it’s clear they were anything but discreet.
In ways big and small the two men drew attention to themselves, the kind of unwanted attention that foreign intel operatives and hitmen — just to sample some of the public speculation about the nature of their alleged operation — tend to avoid.
New reporting from TPM and a recently concluded lawsuit in D.C. reveal that the men’s company allegedly never paid rent on the apartments the feds raided last week. Ever. That resulted in a lawsuit by the landlord against the men, which itself offers new details about what the men were up to.
TPM has learned that a company associated with the men wrangled over payment for the units with the landlord almost immediately after the apartments were leased, with no rent allegedly being paid on any of the five apartments after their leases were signed.
The two men — Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali — moved into the building when it was brand new and largely unoccupied, raising the question of whether they would have had any neighbors to target.
The entire situation is odd, and much of it remains unexplained. Prosecutors allege that the pair lavished gifts on Secret Service agents and accumulated mounds of expensive tactical gear without any clear aim, while the two appear to have created needless trouble for themselves by dodging rent on the five units that they leased. A similar lawsuit filed elsewhere in D.C. suggests that another landlord encountered the same problem with the men’s company.
Prosecutors themselves have shifted in the details they’ve offered publicly after the FBI executed search warrants on the units on Wednesday and detained the two. Secret Service agents allegedly duped by the pair were placed on leave on Tuesday.
Filings from prosecutors in the case suggest that Taherzadeh and Ali were not in the business of discretion. The two allegedly bragged to Secret Service agents in their luxury Navy Yard building about their fake jobs as Homeland Security agents on a series of undercover missions, while Ali allegedly told one witness that he had ties to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
Their alleged scheme — the goal of which is still unclear — involved gifting free rentals of the apartments to Secret Service agents, according to prosecutors.
A lease filed as an exhibit to the lawsuit shows that the apartments were rented via a limited liability company called United States Special Police, registered by Taherzadeh. The other defendant, Haider Ali, is listed as residing in one of the five apartments that the company rented.
But it isn’t clear that anyone was paying.
According to a lawsuit filed against United States Special Police by the landlord in July 2021, the pair had failed to pay $92,697.80 in accumulated rent across the five units.
The two signed the first leases on the five units in November 2020, with a real estate source saying that the two were among the first to move into the building.
It’s not clear how many Secret Service or other federal agents had moved into the building at that time, though public announcements about the building’s opening show that move-ins had only just begun.
Ledgers attached as exhibits to the lawsuit show thousands of dollars in balances accumulating over the first year that the pair lived in the Navy Yard building. The landlord eventually filed suit for eviction in July 2021. D.C.’s COVID moratorium on evictions has prevented Taherzadeh and Ali’s removal so far, the source said.
One of the units rented was penthouse number five, identified in a Friday court filing as having been used to store firearms, ammunition, surveillance equipment, and documents that appeared to include information about all residents in the building.
Taherzadeh and Ali face charges of impersonating a federal officer. Federal prosecutors on Thursday said that they are considering adding additional charges of possession of a firearm and, in Taherzadeh’s case, destruction of evidence.
The pair have not yet entered pleas in the matter.
Tishman Speyer, the building’s owner, and Bozzuto, the building’s management company, did not return TPM’s requests for comment.