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Man on run from US authorities found in Scotland after faking death, prosecutor says

Officials in Utah said Nicholas Alahverdian was suspected of fraud and sexual assault cases in at least two states -- and had faked his death.
Credit: Tomasz Zajda - stock.adobe.com

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Nicholas Alahverdian, a Rhode Island child welfare activist, died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in February 2020, an entry on an obituary website states. He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered at sea. 

But according to Utah authorities, that's not what happened at all. 

Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said Alahverdian was suspected of fraud and sexual assault cases in at least two states -- and had faked his death before being found in Scotland. 

So then how was Alahverdian, also allegedly known as Nicholas Rossi, found?

According to the Providence Journal, Alahverdian was found in a Scotland hospital, where he was on a ventilator for COVID-19. The Washington Post reports that DNA was key in finding Alahverdian in the hospital.

“That created a hit, so we knew where he was,” Leavitt told the Post. 

According to the Journal, Alahverdian was convicted in 2008 of two sex-related charges in Ohio. Leavitt said in 2018, Alahverdian's DNA was linked to a sexual assault in Utah.

According to the Utah County Attorney's Office, Alahverdian was found to be "a suspect in a number of similar offenses in Utah and throughout the United States after the 2008 incident." Prosecutors alleged that Alahverdian had fled the U.S. to avoid prosecution and tried to lead investigators to believe he was dead. 

In January 2021 -- about a year after the supposed death -- the Providence Journal first reported that police thought Alahverdian was alive and had been under investigation for fraud by the FBI when he first announced his illness.

Then came Wednesday's announcement that Alahverdian had been found in Scotland.

"He has been taken into custody and the Utah County Attorney’s Office is working with federal and international agencies to extradite Mr. Rossi back to Utah," the attorney's office said. 

Outlets including the Associated Press reported Alahverdian's death in 2020. According to the Associated Press, he grew up in foster care and became a "vocal critic of Rhode Island’s child care system." Alahverdian's online obituary now shows a banner stating that "Contents of this memorial website have been found to be inaccurate. We've allowed it to stay posted due to its relevance in recent news."

The Utah County Attorney's office said Alahverdian's other aliases include Nicholas Edward Rossi, Nicholas Alahverdian-Rossi, Nick Alan, Nicholas Brown, Arthur Brown and Arthur Knight.

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Travis Pittman contributed to this report.

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