Case of American Accused of Faking Death Takes New Turn

Scottish judge rules Nicholas Rossi can be extradited to Utah to face charges
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 2, 2023 1:30 PM CDT
Judge: American Accused of Faking Death Can Be Extradited
Nicholas Rossi waves as he leaves court in Edinburgh, Scotland, on July 12.   (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)

An American fugitive accused of faking his own death to avoid a rape charge in Utah can be extradited to the US, a judge in Scotland ruled Wednesday, calling the man "as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative." The wanted man known in Scotland as Nicholas Rossi fought his return since being arrested in December 2021 at a Glasgow hospital, where he was being treated for COVID. He repeatedly appeared in court—and in several television interviews—in a wheelchair using an oxygen mask and insisted he was an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight who'd never set foot on American soil, reports the AP.

But judge Norman McFadyen of Edinburgh Sheriff Court had previously dismissed the fugitive's claims of mistaken identity as "implausible" and "fanciful" after the man claimed he'd been framed by authorities who had tattooed him and surreptitiously taken his fingerprints while he was in a coma to connect him to Rossi. "I concluded that the evidence of the requested person was unreliable to the extent that I would not be prepared to accept any statement of fact made by him unless it was independently supported," McFadyen said.

Scottish government ministers will review McFadyen's ruling to determine whether to issue an extradition order. US authorities said Rossi is one of several aliases the 36-year-old has used and that his legal name is Nicholas Alahverdian. Alahverdian is charged with sexually assaulting a former girlfriend in Orem, Utah, in 2008. Authorities in Rhode Island, where Alahverdian grew up, have said he's wanted there for failing to register as a sex offender. Three years ago, Alahverdian told media in Rhode Island 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, along with Alahverdian's former lawyer and his former foster family, cast doubt on whether he had died.

(More faked death stories.)

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