Two men have reportedly been charged with impersonating federal agents, which enabled them to meet a member of the Secret Service and Jill Biden’s private security detail.
Federal prosecutors said the two men — Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 36 — were taken into custody on Wednesday after more than a dozen FBI agents stormed an apartment building in southeastern Washington DC, reports said.
By posing as agents working for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Mr Taherzadeh and Mr Ali were allegedly able to meet current FBI agents and several Secret Service agents, The Associated Press and Washington Post reported of documents filed in court.
A member of first lady’s security detail was said to have received an assault rifle worth $2,000 (£1,528), which as BBC News reported was among a number of gifts given to actual federal agents over a nearly two year period.
A spokesperson for the Secret Service told The Independent in a statement that a number of individuals had been placed on administrative leave and that “The Secret Service has worked, and continues to work, with its law enforcement partners on this ongoing investigation.”
“All personnel involved in this matter are on administrative leave and are restricted from accessing Secret Service facilities, equipment, and systems,” the statement said. “The Secret Service adheres to the highest levels of professional standards and conduct and will remain in active coordination with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.”
Prosecutors said the pair allegedly began posing as federal agents towards the end of the Donald Trump administration, although it remains unclear what may have motivated them to be fake federal agents, prosecutors said.
Court documents said Mr Taherzadeh and Mr Ali told federal agents they worked for the DHS and were working on a task force in connection with the Capitol riot of 6 January 2021, it was alleged. The pair also posed in special police vests and sent those images to their so-called colleagues.
Items gifted to agents by the pair included “rent-free apartments (with a total yearly rent of over $40,000 (£30,578) per apartment), iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen television, a case for storing an assault rifle , a generator, and law enforcement paraphernalia,” it was claimed in court.
The arrest came after a US postal service worker was allegedly assaulted last month at the apartment building stormed on Wednesday. The men allegedly claimed to be DHS employees, leading to a report against them.
Residents of the same building were also allegedly told by Mr Taherzadeh and Mr Ali that they could access their personal information, including their cellphones.
The pair are scheduled to appear in court on Thursday. It was not immediately clear if they had lawyers who could comment on the allegations and an investigation remains ongoing.
The White House referred to the Secret Service for comment.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press