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Extradition approved for Utah rape fugitive who allegedly faked own death

Posted at 10:14 AM, Oct 05, 2023

LONDON — Scottish authorities have approved the extradition of an American man accused of faking his own death to avoid a rape charge in Utah, but his return to the U.S. may be delayed by another case in Britain.

In response to a freedom of information request, the Scottish government on Thursday said an extradition order for the man local officials refer to as Nicholas Rossi had been signed on Sept. 28. It provided no further information.

U.S. authorities said that Rossi is one of several aliases the 36-year-old suspect has used and that his legal name is Nicholas Alahverdian.

Alahverdian is charged with sexually assaulting a former girlfriend in Orem, Utah, in 2008, according to the Utah County prosecutor’s office. He also faces multiple complaints against him in Rhode Island for alleged domestic violence.

Rossi can appeal the Scottish government's decision. His lawyer didn't immediately return a call seeking comment on what his client plans to do.

Regardless of what happens in the extradition case, police in England are seeking to interview Rossi in connection with a “non-recent allegation of rape'' in the city of Chelmsford that was made in April 2022. If charges are filed against Rossi in that case, those proceedings would have to be wrapped up before he could be extradited.

The suspect has already fought a prolonged court battle to prevent his return to the United States since he was arrested in December 2021 at a Glasgow hospital, where he was being treated for COVID-19. Rossi, who insisted he was an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight and had never set foot on American soil, repeatedly appeared in court in a wheelchair using an oxygen mask and speaking in a British accent.

The government signed the order after Judge Norman McFadyen of Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Aug. 2 ruled that the suspect could be extradited, saying Rossi was “as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative.” The man had said he was framed by authorities who took his fingerprints while he was in a coma so they could connect him to Rossi.