Fugitive accused of faking his death to avoid Utah rape charge is extradited from Scotland
Jan 5, 2024, 1:10 PM | Updated: Jan 8, 2024, 11:49 am
LONDON (AP) — A U.S. fugitive known as Nicholas Rossi, who is accused of faking his own death to avoid a rape charge in Utah, has been extradited to the United States, British media reported Friday.
Rossi, 36, whose legal name is Nicholas Alahverdian, is charged with sexually assaulting a former girlfriend in Orem, Utah, in 2008, according to the Utah County prosecutor’s office. He also faces multiple complaints against him in Rhode Island for alleged domestic violence.
In response to an inquiry from The Associated Press about reports that Rossi had been returned to the U.S., Police Scotland would only confirm it assisted other law enforcement agencies to extradite a 36-year-old man. It was not immediately clear when Rossi left Scotland or where he was destined.
Rossi’s run from the law took a bizarre turn when he was arrested in December 2021 after being recognized by someone at a Glasgow hospital while he was being treated for COVID-19. He insisted he was an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight and had never set foot on American soil.
The man had said he was framed by authorities who took his fingerprints while he was in a coma so they could connect him to Rossi. He repeatedly appeared in court in a wheelchair using an oxygen mask and speaking in a less-than-convincing British accent.
The Utah County Attorney’s Office told KSL TV they are looking forward to having Rossi back and moving forward with the case.
Spokesperson Tim Taylor said the office is closely monitoring the developments, and County Attorney Jeff Gray “will provide commentary when Rossi is in Utah and in the Utah County Jail.”
“I want to express my wholehearted respect and gratitude for police and court agencies gacross the world who have sought to assure justice is sought by sending this individual back to stand trial. Now it will be Utah County’s turn to stand up for these victims. The victims deserve no less, and the world will be watching,” said David Leavitt, former Utah County Attorney, who oversaw issuing the arrest warrant in September 2020.
After a protracted court battle, Judge Norman McFadyen of Edinburgh Sheriff Court ruled in August that the extradition could move forward. The judge called Rossi “as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative.”
McFadyen dismissed his claims of mistaken identity as “implausible” and “fanciful.” The judge said Rossi presented unreliable evidence and he wasn’t “prepared to accept any statement of fact made by him unless it was independently supported.”
Rossi lost an appeal in December.
Rossi, who grew up in foster homes in Rhode Island, made a name for himself there as a critic of the state’s Department of Children, Youth and Families.
Four years ago, he told media in Rhode Island that he had late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had weeks to live. An obituary published online claimed he died Feb. 29, 2020.
About a year later, Rhode Island state police, Alahverdian’s former lawyer and his former foster family, questioned whether he was dead.
Authorities in Rhode Island have said Alahverdian is wanted there for failing to register as a sex offender, though his former lawyer there, Jeffrey Pine, told the AP earlier this year that the charge was dropped when he left the state. The FBI has said he also faces fraud charges in Ohio, where he was convicted of sex-related charges in 2008.
Police in England said they also were investigating and seeking to interview Rossi in connection with an older rape allegation made in April 2022 in the city of Chelmsford.
KSL TV’s Garna Mejia contributed to this story.