Rhode Island

US Fugitive Who Faked Death, Skipped UK Court Date Arrested

Nicholas Alahverdian fled the U.S. and was discovered at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland after falling ill with COVID-19

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Jeff J Mitchell

A Rhode Island man who authorities say fled the U.S. and faked his death to evade prosecution for rape and financial fraud has been arrested after skipping his court date in Scotland, police said Thursday.

Police Scotland said officers arrested Nicholas Alahverdian in the Woodlands area of Glasgow after a warrant was issued by the Edinburgh Sheriff Court earlier in the day.

Prosecutors had sought to revoke Alahverdian's bail and remand him to custody during a Thursday hearing, a request the court granted, Stuart Ritchie, a spokesperson for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, said. The 34-year-old, who has gone under a number of other aliases, is due back in court Friday and a hearing on his extradition is expected at a later date, he said.

Police and court spokespersons deferred other follow up questions to Scotland's Crown Office, which oversees prosecutions, but a spokesperson for that agency declined to comment. Spokespersons for the Edinburgh Sheriff Court also didn't return emails seeking comment.

Utah County Attorney David Leavitt’s office, which has charged Alahverdian in connection with a 2008 rape in Utah, confirmed Alahverdian's arrest but said it wouldn't be commenting on the extradition proceedings.

“We again express our gratitude to the law enforcement agencies for their diligent efforts in this matter to bring this individual to justice,” he said in a statement.

It’s not clear whether Alahverdian has a lawyer; an email seeking comment was sent to the “Alahverdian Family Office,” which had sent a notice in 2020 about his funeral and memorial service in Rhode Island.

Alahverdian was discovered at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow last month under the assumed name of Arthur Knight after becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. He had an initial hearing by video conference from the hospital on Dec. 23 and was granted bail while he awaited extradition to the U.S., Ritchie said.

Leavitt's office says Alahverdian, at the time going by the name Nicholas Rossi, sexually assaulted a former girlfriend in Orem, Utah, in 2008. The office has said its investigation found other complaints alleging abuse and threatening behavior against women in other states.

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

In recent years, Alahverdian had been 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.

Then in 2020, he told local media outlets he had late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had weeks to live.

An obituary published online claimed he died Feb. 29, 2020, but by last year, Rhode Island state police, Alahverdian’s former lawyer and former foster family were publicly doubting whether he actually died.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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