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Man accused of faking death found after catching COVID

An ambulance thought to be carrying Nicholas Rossi, who is believed to have faked his own death...
An ambulance thought to be carrying Nicholas Rossi, who is believed to have faked his own death to escape sex assault charges in Utah, United States, arrives at Sheriff Court in Edinburgh, Britain, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, following his arrest after he missed an extradition hearing on Thursday at the same court.(Source: Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)
Published: Jan. 23, 2022 at 12:53 AM PST|Updated: Jan. 23, 2022 at 12:54 AM PST
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LONDON (AP) - An American man who authorities say faked his own death to evade prosecution for rape and financial fraud before fleeing to Scotland was jailed Friday after he failed to show up for an extradition hearing.

Nicholas Alahverdian, who has used a number of aliases including Nicholas Rossi, was denied bail at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after being arrested in Glasgow on Thursday. The 34-year-old will be back in court on Feb. 10 for a preliminary hearing, with a full hearing scheduled for Feb. 17, Scottish court officials said.

His attorney, Fred Mackintosh, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alahverdian was first arrested on Dec. 13 at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, where he was discovered after becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. The suspect, who was using the name Arthur Knight, appeared in court by video link on Dec. 23 and was granted bail so he could keep receiving medical treatment while awaiting extradition proceedings.

Prosecutors allege Alahverdian discharged himself the following day and returned to his home in Glasgow. He was arrested Thursday after failing to attend a hearing in the extradition case.

Sheriff Alistair Noble, the Scottish judicial officer who presided over Friday’s hearing, said bail was initially granted on the understanding that Alahverdian would need to remain in the hospital for “at least a few weeks.” But Noble said a doctor at the hospital has indicated that the suspect can now receive the treatment he needs while in prison.

Noble ordered Alahverdian to be held without bail because he “cannot be trusted.”

Utah County Attorney David Leavitt’s office, which has charged Alahverdian in connection with a 2008 rape in Utah, confirmed Alahverdian’s arrest but said it wouldn’t comment on the extradition proceedings.

Leavitt’s office says Alahverdian, who was then using the name Nicholas Rossi, sexually assaulted a former girlfriend in Orem, Utah. The office has said its investigation found other complaints alleging abuse and threatening behavior against women in other states.

Authorities in Rhode Island have said Alahverdian is also wanted in their state for failing to register as a sex offender. The FBI has said he faces fraud charges in Ohio, where he was convicted of sex-related charges in 2008.

In recent years, Alahverdian had been an outspoken critic of Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth and Families, testifying before state lawmakers about being sexually abused and tortured while in foster care.

Then in 2020, he told local media he had late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had weeks to live.

An obituary published online claimed he died on Feb. 29, 2020. But by last year, Rhode Island state police, Alahverdian’s former lawyer and former foster family were publicly doubting whether he actually died.

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Philip Marcelo in Boston contributed to this story.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.