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Man arrested at Scottish hospital last year is U.S. fugitive who faked his own death, court rules

A judge in Edinburgh said he was “ultimately satisfied on the balance of probabilities” that the man before him was Nicholas Rossi.
Nicholas Rossi court case
The defendant leaving court in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Wednesday.Jane Barlow / PA via Getty Images

A man who was arrested in a Scottish hospital last year is in fact an American fugitive who faked his own death to avoid rape and sexual assault charges, a court ruled Friday.

Nicholas Rossi, 35, has spent over a year trying to convince authorities that he is Arthur Knight, an orphan from Ireland who has never been to the U.S.

But after hearing that the man's tattoos and fingerprints matched those of Rossi, Norman McFadyen, a judge on the Edinburgh Sheriff Court, ruled that he was the man U.S. authorities were seeking.

“I am ultimately satisfied on the balance of probabilities, by the evidence of fingerprint, photographic and tattoo evidence, taken together, supported by the evidence of changes of name, that Mr. Knight is indeed Nicholas Rossi, the person sought for extradition by the United States,” McFadyen said.

A full hearing on Rossi's extradition to the U.S. will now go ahead in Scotland in March.

Authorities have accused Rossi of fleeing the U.S. to avoid prosecution and said he had tried to trick investigators into believing he was dead.

Nicholas Rossi is wanted in Utah on felony rape charges, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said in a statement in July, adding that Rossi is also known as Nicholas Alahverdian, Nicholas Brown, Arthur Winston Brown and Arthur Knight Brown.

“In 2018 the DNA profile from the Utah sexual assault came back as a match to a sexual assault case in Ohio,” Leavitt said in a statement in January. “The suspect, in that case, was Nicholas Rossi.”  

A number of news outlets in 2020 cited the memorial website in reporting that Rossi had died that February from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

He was arrested in October 2021 “for obstructing the course of justice and allegedly behaved in a threatening or abusive manner” at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in the Scottish city of Glasgow, where he was being treated for Covid-19, Leavitt said.

An Interpol red notice, with pictures of the wanted man, including images of his tattoos and fingerprints, helped officers from Police Scotland identify him.

Leavitt admitted in January that Rossi would still probably be living “off the grid” had he not contracted Covid and required medical care.

“It’s a lot more difficult than people imagine,” he said.

Leavitt's office and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.