Judge declines to jail two men accused of impersonating federal agents, give them gifts
Judge ordered the men to remain in home confinement and to surrender passports
A federal judge has declined to jail two men accused of impersonating federal agents and giving Secret Service personnel gifts.
The decision Tuesday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey is a setback for prosecutors who argue the defendants pose a danger and should be detained, according to Reuters.
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35, were arrested last week for allegedly providing to Secret Service agents thousands of dollars worth of gifts – including rent-free apartments and iPhones. One of the agents protected first lady Jill Biden.
"There's been no showing that national security information has been compromised," the judge said Tuesday in his ruling.
Harvey ordered the men to remain in home confinement and to surrender their passports.
However, the judge has agreed to stay his order until Wednesday morning while the government mulls whether to appeal, the wire service also reports.
The judge said prosecutors did not prove the defendants tried to infiltrate the Secret Service with nefarious purposes and that they were so "spectacularly outed" that there is no longer a risk that they can continue to pose as agents.
Harvey said neither defendant is charged with a violent crime nor faces a stiff prison term if convicted. He also said he does believe prosecutors have enough evidence to secure convictions in the case.
The challenges prosecutors faced in convincing Harvey to detain the defendants appeared to stem, at least in part, from the rushed nature of the investigation.
Federal prosecutor Joshua Rothstein told the judge the FBI was forced to move before it was ready against the two after a Secret Service investigator tipped them off about being under scrutiny, also according to Reuters.