An accused Utah rapist who allegedly faked his death before fleeing to Scotland six years ago has told a judge he is not well enough to raise his arms above his head – despite being photographed doing so just a day earlier.
Bound in a wheelchair, Nicholas Alahverdian – aka Nicholas Rossi, 35 – made the argument Thursday whilst giving evidence at Edinburgh‘s Sheriff Court, where he is facing extradition.
A day prior, the American – who claims he is unable to walk following a nine-month incarceration – was seen filmed being rolled out of the same court with his hand triumphantly raised.
Considered a fugitive, Alahverdian could soon be extradited to the US to face a number of sex assault charges, including the rape of a 21-year-old woman in Utah in 2008. Nine years after the alleged attack, prosecutors say he faked his death – before fleeing to the UK.
The development comes weeks after Alahverdian was interviewed by US network program Dateline – during which he appeared to suffer an apparent medical episode while trying to prove he could stand up.
Nicholas Alahverdian, an accused Utah rapist who allegedly faked his death before fleeing to Scotland six years ago has told a judge he is not well enough to raise his arms above his head
A day prior, the incarcerated American – who claims he is unable to walk following a nine-month incarceration and is now facing extradition back to the US – was seen filmed being rolled out of the same court with his hand raised
‘I am not Nicholas Alahverdian. I do not know how to make this clearer,’ he told NBC in a bizarre Transatlantic accent, maintaining he was an Irish orphan named Arthur Wright.
Many would later deem the incident dubious, citing the suspect’s over-the-top antics and the fact he remains in a Scottish jail amid the ongoing proceedings.
During the interview, a bespectacled Alahverdian donned an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose, and flailed his arms as he stood alongside his wife for less than a second before falling back into his seat.
During his appearance in court Wednesday, Alahverdian – who went by the alias Nicholas Rossi at the time of his 2021 arrest – donned a much different getup, one that appeared to be that of an orthodox Jewish person with a yarmulke.
During the day’s proceedings, Alahverdian – who was arrested at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow while receiving care for Covid-19 – raised his hand on two occasions to attract the attention of his defense agent Mungo Bovey KC.
Alahverdian also refuted claims by HMP Edinburgh GP Barbara Mundweil about his use of an electric wheelchair, after the doctor said there was no medical reason for Rossi to use one.
She further argued that while he uses an electric wheelchair in court, he uses a manual version in prison.
To that, Alahverdian – after the court confirmed his identity last year – said: ‘The entire population of HMP Edinburgh would testify that fellow prisoners push those in wheelchairs.
‘They are called pushers and they are paid £2.50 per week.’
The development comes weeks after Alahverdian was interviewed by US network Dateline – during which he appeared to suffer an apparent medical episode while trying to prove he could stand up.
During the interview, a bespectacled Alahverdian donned an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose, and flailed his arms as he stood alongside his wife before falling back into his seat
Many would later slam the stunt as dubious, citing the suspect’s over-the-top antics and the fact he remains in a Scottish jail amid the ongoing proceedings
Advocate depute Alan Cameron remained unconvinced, telling jurists that Alahverdian’s word means little, and that given the background of his extradition, the suspected con artist will say anything to avoid it.
Alahverdian replied: ‘I have considered going to the United States to simply prove I am not Nicholas Rossi.’
Alahverdian also claimed he has been ‘neglected and mistreated’ during his nine months in an Edinburgh lockup, to the extent that he has suffered both ‘physically and psychologically’.
During cross-examination, Alahverdian was unable to answer a question about his parents’ names.
He claimed documents relating to his birth parents are in the custody of an ‘individual’ in Ireland.
He added: ‘Prior to that law (birth tracing Act) being enacted, it was illegal for an adopted adult to ascertain those records (in Ireland).’
He further told Cameron he would submit the documents when they are in his possession.
Alahverdian went on to repeat a series of claims about his arrest, saying he is the victim of a conspiracy by the Crown Office.
Rossi is represented in court by Mungo Bovey KC, seen here outside court this week
He also made serious allegations about Utah state prosecutor David Leavitt, the American prosecutor spearheading his prospective extradition, of ‘ritualized child sex abuse.’
The following day, the court heard from two Utah lawyers who speculated on the kind of sentence Rossi might receive if he is successfully extradited.
Joshua Baron, a criminal defense attorney based in Salt Lake City, said Rossi could be sentenced for five years to life in prison if he is convicted of obstructing justice, after fleeing overseas from the FBI and Utah police whilst being investigated for credit card fraud.
Alahverdian, meanwhile, does not consent to his extradition – and continues he is Arthur Knight.
He also concedes he is not paralyzed, but maintains his leg muscles have been so badly atrophied he is unable to walk or support himself.
During the interview with Dateline – one of several TV spots Alahverdian has engaged in – the Rhode Islander seemed determined to continue with the deception, and grew so irate he was unable to see out of his small, round-framed glasses.
Appearing beside his British wife, Miranda Knight, and told the program: ‘We were once a normal family, but thanks to the media our lives have been interrupted.’
Speaking in what sounded like an English accent, he continued: ‘And we’d like privacy and I would like to go back to being a normal husband, but I can’t because I can’t breathe, I can’t walk.’
In a desperate attempt to then prove he is unable to walk, Rossi tried to stand up before dramatically falling back into his chair as his wife stabilized him.
‘Exactly, exactly,’ he told the interviewer.
When asked if he is putting on a show, he said: ‘That is a low blow, that is a very low blow.’
Rossi was first arrested in October 2021, after checking himself in to a hospital in Glasgow with a serious COVID infection. That is the condition he claims now necessitates his use of an oxygen tank.
Medical staff and police were able to identify him by comparing his tattoos with pictures of Rossi on an Interpol red notice.
Rossi appeared beside his British wife, Miranda Knight, who offered reassurance as he tried to demonstrate that he couldn’t walk
Nicholas Rossi leaving the Sheriff Court in Edinburgh on Thursday after an ‘altercation’ that saw an extradition hearing postponed
The US now seeks to extradite him to face a number of sexual assault charges, amid them an accusation he raped a 21-year-old woman in Utah in 2008. Pictured is his undated mugshot from the sex offenders’ registry
A stream of preliminary hearings then took place, which saw Rossi sack at least six lawyers and claim to have been tortured in prison.
The hearings culminated in an extraordinary identification case where he insisted his fingerprints had been meddled with and that he had been tattooed while unconscious in hospital in order to resemble Rossi.
He was then charged with acting aggressively towards a consultant and senior nurse at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.
Rossi reportedly told US media in December 2019 that he had late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had weeks to live.
An obituary dedicated to him appeared online, and several outlets reported that he had died in February 2020.
After his arrest US authorities issued additional extradition requests – one related to another allegation of rape and another to an allegation of sexual assault.
Advocate depute Paul Harvey said at the time: ‘As a result of the extradition process I’m told that two other women in Utah have come forward with allegations of sexual offences.
‘On Friday, October 28 the US Embassy in London issued a diplomatic notice for supplementary extradition requests, requesting the extradition of the person.
Rossi arriving at an Edinburgh court in April 2022 in a wheelchair beside his wife Miranda, who is wheeling a tank of oxygen for him
Prosecutors said Rossi is a Rhode Island man wanted after fleeing the US in 2017 to evade charges involving identity theft and fraud, and a 2008 sexual assault charge in Utah
‘This morning Scottish ministers certified the extradition requests and copies of both extradition requests and the Scottish ministers’ certification were served on the requested person by a police constable at the court this morning.’
He said one relates to an allegation of rape in Salt Lake City and another to an allegation of sexual assault elsewhere.
Rossi, who arrived at court for the October 2022 date with his wife Miranda Knight, is already fighting an extradition request by authorities in Utah who allege he raped a 21-year-old in the state.
He was arrested on December 13 last year after being admitted to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow – under the alias Arthur Knight – for urgent Covid treatment.
He was traced following a tip off from Interpol while he was on a ventilator in intensive care.
Rossi told US media in December 2019 that he had late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had weeks to live – before several outlets reported that he had died in February 2020, with a gushing obituary published online about him.
He is also said to have attacked women in the states of Rhode Island, Ohio and Massachusetts.
However, when he was arrested in Scotland, neighbors claimed he had told them he was a British professor who said he was working at the nearby University of Glasgow.
Described as an eccentric, the alleged academic was often seen sporting large hats, dapper bow ties and spoke with a cut-glass English accent.
It was also claimed he enjoyed visiting bars wearing suits, where he would sip on whiskey and go on political rants about Brexit. with one neighbor telling The Times: ‘For someone who was on the run, he really liked to draw attention to himself.’
Alahverdian furiously denies he is the American wanted by the FBI and insists he has been mistakenly identified by the authorities.
Police and hospital staff initially identified the man as being Rossi from tattoos on his body. Photographs obtained by officers showed that he had tattoos on his arms.
Prosecutors said in 2020 that an anonymous email was sent to Rhode Island Media indicating he had died from non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that he had been cremated and buried at sea.
The court heard that since the alleged sexual offender’s arrest received media attention, Police Scotland had received ‘a complaint of a domestic nature to police in Essex in 2017’ in relation to Rossi.
Rossi claimed he was a British professor who said he was working at the nearby University of Glasgow. He is pictured in Edinburgh in July, 2022, wearing pajamas and velvet shoes
Alahverdian, 34, was arrested on an Interpol notice at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow on December 13 after nearly dying of Covid-19
A US man alleged to be a fugitive on the run from the FBI was found after years spent hiding in Scotland by police matching his tattoos, prosecutors have said. The man, who goes by at least ten other aliases, including Nicholas Alahverdian (pictured), appeared at a hearing in Edinburgh on Friday in a wheelchair wearing an oxygen mask, pyjamas and a dressing gown
Several media outlets reported in 2020 that Alahverdian had died on February 29 2020. They cited the website EverLoved.com, which said his body was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea.
An online obituary dedicated to him read: ‘Nicholas Alahverdian’s battle for life ended on February 29 2020.
‘The children and families in the care of the Rhode Island Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) for whom he inspired and led through turbulent government transgressions have lost a warrior that fought on the front lines for two decades.’
He is accused of raping an ex-girlfriend in September 2008, with police investigating him after discovering he’d been reported to the police over similar alleged attacks in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Utah and Ohio.
Rossi was convicted of sexual assault following an ‘encounter’ with another student at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.
He is suspected of carrying out multiple other sex attacks, and was also accused of a $200,000 fraud after taking out credit cards and loans in his foster mother’s husband’s name in Ohio, it is alleged.
Rossi divorced his second wife in 2017 after less than two years of marriage, and is also said to owe her $52,000. Both of his former spouses took out restraining orders against him after their marriage ended.
More details of his bizarre behavior was detailed by the Providence Journal, which obtained a series of Pawtucket police reports from more than a decade ago.
One accuser told police in July 2010 that Rossi lured her to his apartment under the guise that she’d be visiting his art studio. Instead, she told cops, he took away her phone and pressed her for sex.
This map shows the trail of havoc and alleged criminal behavior carried out by Nicholas Alahverdian across the US
When she refused his advances, he told her ‘if she left, he would kill himself by stabbing himself in the chest with a knife,’ the outlet reported.
He was then was taken to hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
Police returned to his apartment that November on a tip, and said they encountered an ‘extremely upset’ woman with injuries to both eyes.
The woman told cops that Rossi snapped after their dinner guests’ baby began crying earlier that night, and claimed they later got into an argument which turned violent.
Rossi ‘grabbed her and knocked her to the ground and held her down’ and ‘slapped her on the facial area,’ the outlet reported.
Utah County Sheriff’s Office in Provo began the hunt for Rossi in 2020 after testing old sexual assault kits.
He was found by a court last year to be Rossi. The hearing before Sheriff Norman McFadyen continues.