US fugitive who faked own death discovered in Glasgow after falling ill with Covid

·2 min read
He was reported dead, but the Rhode Island police kept looking for Nick Alahverdian
He was reported dead, but the Rhode Island police kept looking for Nick Alahverdian

A “Harvard-educated” fugitive who faked his own death in an attempt to escape fraud and sexual assault allegations in America has been discovered in a Glasgow hospital after he caught Covid-19.

Extradition proceedings have begun against Nicholas Rossi, who was using the fake name Arthur Knight when he was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and was later placed on a ventilator.

The death of the 34-year-old, who also used the surname Alahverdian, was announced in February 2020.

An “obituary” claimed that he was cremated and his ashes “scattered at sea” following a quick demise from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer.

It was reported that he died with his wife and two children at his bedside and an obituary even recounted his last words: “Fear not and run toward the bliss of the sun.”

In fact, he had fled across to Atlantic to evade arrest on fraud and sexual assault probes in two US states, prosecutors in the Utah County Attorney’s Office believe.

“He certainly has gone to elaborate means to hide himself,” David Leavitt, the county attorney, told The Washington Post. “I’ve been practising law, both as a prosecutor and a defence attorney for 30 years. This is a first.”

He lived a warriors's life

Rossi was known in Rhode Island for his calls to reform the state’s child welfare system. He had worked as an aide in the state legislature, where a formal resolution was lodged in March 2020 paying a gushing tribute which claimed he lived a “warrior’s life”.

His fake obituary described him as a Harvard alumni, although it has been claimed he attended but did not graduate.

Doubts about his death emerged after no death certificate was issued in Ireland, where it was claimed he had moved to. NHS workers in Glasgow discovered that he was wanted by Interpol and he was arrested by Scottish police.

Before his disappearance, he was being investigated by the FBI over fraud allegations in Ohio and was subject of a Rhode Island arrest warrant for failing to register as a sex offender following a conviction in 2008.

His DNA had been linked in 2020 to “a number of similar [sexual assault] offences in Utah and throughout the United States”, according to the county attorney’s office.

He appeared via videolink in extradition proceedings on December 23.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Officers arrested a 34-year-old man in Glasgow on Monday, December 13, in connection with an international arrest warrant.”

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