NATIONAL NEWS

US fugitive accused of faking his death to avoid rape charges is booked into a Utah jail

Jan 8, 2024, 2:40 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A U.S. fugitive known as Nicholas Rossi, who is accused of faking his own death and fleeing the country to avoid rape charges, is in a Utah jail after he was extradited from Scotland last week, jail records showed on Monday.

Rossi, whose legal name is Nicholas Alahverdian, is charged with sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman in Orem, Utah, in 2008, according to local prosecutors. He was not identified as a suspect until about a decade later, due to a backlog of DNA test kits at the Utah State Crime Lab.

Rossi faces another felony rape charge in Salt Lake County, where prosecutors say he sexually assaulted a 26-year-old former girlfriend after an argument, also in 2008. He faces multiple other complaints against him in Rhode Island and Ohio for alleged domestic violence, sexual abuse and fraud.

The 36-year-old, who has used at least 10 aliases in his run from the law, was booked Friday afternoon into the Davis County Jail, which houses many federal detainees in northern Utah. He will likely be transferred to Utah County in the coming days, where he will stand trial for felony rape charges, according to the Utah County Attorney’s Office.

His initial court date had not been set as of Monday and records did not yet indicate who will represent him in court.

The American fugitive grew up in foster homes in Rhode Island and had returned to the state before allegedly faking his death and fleeing the country. An obituary published online claimed Rossi died Feb. 29, 2020, of late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But state police and his former foster family questioned whether he was really dead.

Rossi was arrested in Scotland the following year after he was recognized at a Glasgow hospital while receiving treatment for COVID-19. He insisted he was an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight who had never traveled to the U.S.

After a lengthy court battle, an Edinburgh judge ruled in August that the extradition could move forward. He called Rossi “as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative.” Rossi lost an appeal in December and was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service.

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US fugitive accused of faking his death to avoid rape charges is booked into a Utah jail