An American who allegedly faked his own death to dodge a rape allegation in Utah was removed from the United Kingdom and is headed back the United States, officials said Friday.
U.S. authorities have long sought the extradition of a 36-year-old man they know as Nicholas Rossi, though he’s also used the names Nicholas Alahverdian and most recently Arthur Knight, authorities have said.
The man believed to be Rossi turned up in a Scottish hospital, suffering from Covid, in 2022. He then spent months trying to convince authorities that he was an orphan from Ireland who has never been to the U.S., although a Scottish judge eventually ruled he was in fact Nicholas Rossi.
When asked about Rossi on Friday, a Scottish police spokesperson said: “We assisted partner agencies with the extradition of a 36-year-old man.”
Rossi is wanted in connection with the rape of a former girlfriend in Orem, Utah, in 2008 and an attack in Ohio in 2018, the Utah County Attorney’s Office has said.
The Utah prosecutors said they’ve been told by federal authorities they won’t be alerted to Rossi’s extradition, or that it’s even underway, until he touches down on U.S. soil.
A Department of Justice spokesperson declined comment on Friday and referred to all questions to Utah County authorities.
The chief of staff for the Utah County Attorney’s Office, Tim Taylor, said prosecutors are looking forward to seeing Rossi face justice.
“Absolutely it’s important,” Taylor told NBC News on Friday. “We’re looking forward to having him back and moving this case forward.”
Rossi’s prosecution had been a top priority for the previous county prosecutor, David Leavitt, who lost his re-election bid in 2022.
“I want to express my wholehearted respect and gratitude for police and court agencies across the world who have sought to assure justice is sought by sending this individual back to stand trial,” Leavitt said in a statement Friday. “Now it will be Utah County’s turn to stand up for these victims. The victims deserve no less, and the world will be watching.”
Citing the memorial website EverLoved.com, various news sites reported that Rossi died on Feb. 29, 2020, from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Rossi has been charged with one count of rape, in an attack on a 21-year-old woman on Sept. 13, 2008, according to a prosecutor’s affidavit.
It wasn’t clear Friday if Rossi had retained a defense lawyer in the U.S. yet.