U.S. rape suspect accused of faking his death to avoid justice can be extradited, Scottish court rules


A man believed to be American fugitive Nicholas Alahverdian, who allegedly faked his own death to avoid rape and fraud charges in the U.S. and was later arrested in the U.K., where he’s known by the alias Nicholas Rossi, can be extradited back to the U.S, a court in Scotland ruled on Wednesday. The man, who denies being 35-year-old Alahverdian, was arrested in December 2021 at a Glasgow hospital where he was being treated for COVID-19. 

He has denied being Alahverdian or Rossi, claiming instead to be an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight who’s never set foot in the U.S.

Nicholas Rossi court case
The defendant leaving Edinburgh Sheriff and Justice Of The Peace Court on Wednesday, November 9, 2022.

Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images

In a hearing at the Edinburgh Sheriff Court, judge Norman McFadyen ruled that Rossi, as the Scottish court refers to him, could be extradited. The judge’s ruling sends the case to Scottish government ministers to make a final decision on the extradition.

In November 2022, the same judge ruled that the man claiming to be Knight was indeed Alahverdian. After seeing evidence including fingerprints and tattoos, McFadyen told the Edinburgh court he was “ultimately satisfied on the balance of probabilities… that Mr. Knight is indeed Nicholas Rossi, the person sought for extradition by the United States.”

The suspect, who’s reportedly been known by at  accused authorities of tattooing him while he was in a coma so that he would resemble the wanted man, and of surreptitiously taking his fingerprints to frame him. In recent months, he has appeared in several bizarre television interviews alongside his wife.

“We were once a normal family, but thanks to the media our lives have been interrupted,” he told NBC in April, gasping into an oxygen mask in an unrecognizable accent. “We’d like privacy and I would like to go back to being a normal husband, but I can’t because I can’t breathe, I can’t walk.”

Nicholas Rossi extradition hearing
Nicholas Rossi, aka Nicolas Alahverdian, leaves the Edinburgh Sheriff Court after judge Norman McFadyen confirmed his identity as the man who has been fighting extradition to the U.S. on charges involving identity theft and fraud, and a 2008 sexual assault charge in Utah, November 11, 2022.

Andrew Milligan/PA Images/Getty

When asked if he was lying about his identity, he exclaimed: “I am not Nicholas Alahverdian! I do not know how to make this clearer!”

Last year, judge McFayden called Rossi’s claims “fanciful” and “implausible.”  

U.S. authorities have always said that Rossi and Knight are the same man, Alahverdian, who was charged in connection with a 2008 rape in Utah.

Alahverdian is also wanted by authorities in Rhode Island for failing to register as a sex offender in that state. The FBI has said he also faces fraud charges in Ohio, where he was also convicted of sex-related charges in 2008.

Before leaving the U.S., Alahverdian had become an outspoken critic of Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth and Families, testifying before state lawmakers about being sexually abused and tortured while in foster care.

In 2020, he told local media that he had late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had only weeks to live.

An obituary published online claimed that he had died on February 29, 2020, but by last year, Rhode Island State Police, Alahverdian’s former lawyer and his former foster family were casting public doubt over his purported death.

Since his arrest in Scotland, the suspect has made several court appearances and fired at least six lawyers — all while insisting that he isn’t Nicholas Rossi or Nicholas Alahverdian.

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