On a couple of occasions now, outside a courthouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, Nicholas Alahverdian’s sidewalk imitation of Winston Churchill has served as an opening act to his latest court proceeding.
The 34-year-old Rhode Island con man and convicted sex offender, fighting extradition to Utah, arrives in a wheelchair, dressed just like England’s famous World War Il-era prime minister: dark three-piece suit, bow tie, a watch chain fastened to his vest and, of course, a Homburg on his head.
He’s even flashed the famous Churchill victory sign to the scrum of reporters and photographers there to capture his arrival, which at times has turned farcical – like in April when his oxygen mask tube disconnected as the white gas tank clanked down the street.
Alahverdian – who insists that he is actually an Englishman named Arthur Knight – carried on seemingly unfazed, griping about one local reporter for more than two minutes while disconnected to the oxygen he says he needs since falling ill with COVID.
“So much for you needing oxygen,” the reporter told him. “You’re not connected.”
On Thursday the show outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court was cancelled when Alahverdian failed to appear for his latest hearing.
Inside, a Scottish prosecutor accused Alahverdian of seeking to delay his extradition hearing by checking himself into a hospital the day earlier.
“This is the second hearing in a row that this has happened on the eve of the hearing,” said Advocate Depute Paul Harvey. “There is an emerging picture of someone seeking by every means possible to delay these proceedings.”
Nicholas Alahverdian: U.S. prisons 'inhumane' and that's why he shouldn't be extradited
Alahverdian, once a familiar State House advocate for child welfare reform, staged his own death in 2020 as the FBI pursued him for $200,000 in false credit-card charges. But his sudden demise left many who knew him – and some law enforcement officials who didn’t – suspicious.
Seven months after his outlandish obituary showered him with lionized accomplishments, the Utah County Attorney’s office issued a warrant for his arrest, charging him with raping a former girlfriend in 2008 in Orem, Utah.
Authorities say he used 16 different aliases attempting to avoid capture, but he could not escape COVID. The unvaccinated Alahverdian ended up in a Glasgow hospital where Interpol authorities arrested him in December. Utah officials say they identified him through DNA and tattoos, which Alahverdian apparently has since removed.
After initially refusing to show his arms in several interviews, Alahverdian more recently has been offering up his arms for inspection before even being asked. At an earlier hearing, a prosecutor told the court there was scarring on at least one of his arms, indicative of tattoo removal.
Alahverdian says he is a victim of mistaken identity, that he is Knight, a marketing professional with interests in academics and art, trying to live a quiet life with his supportive wife, Miranda.
Authorities say he is a serial sex predator who has faced allegations in four U.S. states since 2008, including Rhode Island and Ohio, where he was convicted in 2008 of groping a community college student that he’d met for lunch an hour earlier.
During Thursday’s preliminary extradition hearing, prosecutor Harvey told Sheriff Thomas Welsch the question of identity can be determined “swiftly,” according to the news service PA Scotland, which covered the hearing. But Alahverdian isn’t cooperating.
Harvey said Alahverdian, who is now representing himself, was invited on June 7 to review the evidence prosecutors plan to use against him but “no reply was ever received to that.” The situation, said Harvey, “simply cannot continue.”
He asked the court to continue the preliminary hearing to next Monday and that Alahverdian (charged under the surname Rossi, his stepfather’s last name) provide “a full medical report” by then.
Sheriff Welsch agreed to the order and continued Alahverdian’s bail until then.
Alahverdian told The Journal recently in a phone interview that he is representing himself now because his last lawyer referred to him in court as Rossi instead of Knight, and that she refused to file certain documents for him.
It’s not the first time Alahverdian has represented himself in court. He did so in at least one of two previous divorce cases – where he also often failed to appear for hearings – as well as in a case against the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families in which he alleged maltreatment in group homes where he’d been placed.
Earlier this month he launched a GoFundMe campaign seeking 25,000 English pounds (more than $30,000) for his legal defense.
(A GoFundMe spokesperson said Thursday "that the fundraiser was removed from the platform because it violated GoFundMe Terms of Service. The fundraiser had not collected any donations at the time of removal."
On a website Alahverdian created called ZeusNews, he attacked Utah County Attorney David Leavitt.
With echoes of Churchill, Alahverdian sought England’s help in his moment of need.
“Mr Leavitt must know,” Alahverdian wrote, “that we shall settle any cost, confront any lie, lend a helping hand, admit fault where the fault is ours, and endure any tragedy imposed to maintain a community spirit of success amongst each other as proud Britons.”
“Mr. Leavitt may not give in tomorrow. He may not give in next month. He may never give in …[But] my friends and neighbours of this glorious country of ours, as we celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, let us gather together to support one of our own, I ask you to stand with me and my wife, and we promise from the bottom of our hearts that we will stand with you.”
Email Tom Mooney at: email@example.com
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Nicholas Alahverdian Rossi acts like Winston Churchill at courthouse