Update: A wanted man who evaded capture for years after, authorities say, faking his death, was jailed Friday without bail in Scotland when the court decreed he "cannot be trusted." Nicholas Alahverdian was picked up after failing to show up for an extradition hearing, the AP reports. He'd earlier been granted bail so he could keep receiving medical treatment until that proceeding. Sheriff Alistair Noble, presiding over Edinburgh Sheriff Court, ordered him jailed until hearings next month. Our original story from Jan. 13 follows:
An American fugitive who faked his death from cancer was caught after COVID almost killed him for real. Police in Rhode Island say Nicholas Alahverdian, whose many aliases include Nicholas Rossi, was admitted to a hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, last month with severe COVID and ended up on a ventilator, reports the Providence Journal. Alahverdian, who police say had been using the name Arthur Knight, was arrested and placed under 24-hour guard after authorities discovered he was wanted in the US for crimes including sexual assault and fraud, the Scottish Sun reports. In 2020, soon after the FBI began investigating Alahverdian, an obituary claimed he'd died on Feb. 29 at age 32 from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
"His last words were 'fear not and run toward the bliss of the sun'" and "his earthly remains were cremated with his ashes scattered at sea," the obituary noted. Authorities suspected that Alahverdian might still be alive, though a woman who said she was his widow insisted he had died in her arms, the Journal reported a year ago. Alahverdian was convicted on two sex-related charges in Ohio in 2008, but his DNA wasn't entered into a national database until 2017. The following year, the DNA linked him to a sexual assault in Utah, and investigators said he was also a suspect in numerous similar cases starting in 2008.
Alahverdian, known to lawmakers in Rhode Island as a child welfare advocate, was also being investigated for alleged fraud in Ohio, where his former foster mother said she he'd run up debts of nearly $200,000 after obtaining 22 credit cards and loans under her husband's name. Alahverdian announced his cancer diagnosis soon after he was questioned in connection with that case. He now faces extradition to Utah. Utah County prosecutor David Leavitt tells the Washington Post that it took a "quite ingenious and massive collaboration between law enforcement entities," including Interpol, to catch Alahverdian. (Read more Rhode Island stories.)